Joseph “JT” Duck has been appointed the new dean of admissions for the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering, replacing outgoing Dean Karen Richardson, who has been named dean of admission at her alma mater, Princeton University. Duck comes to Tufts following a five-year tenure at Swarthmore College as director of admissions. He previously worked various roles within admissions offices throughout the Boston area at Brandeis, MIT and the Boston University Academy.
Patricia Reilly, associate dean of financial aid, explained to the Daily in an email how Duck was chosen to be dean.
“The search committee reviewed all applications for the position, interviewed the first round of candidates and recommended finalists to Dean Glaser and Dean Qu, who made the final decision,” she said.
A graduate of Haverford College, Duck was the first in his family to graduate college and has emphasized the importance of making the application process accessible to first-generation and low-income students.
“I am always thinking about families that may not have the social, financial or educational capital to most easily navigate the American college admissions process, and then thinking of ways to work with an admissions team to reduce barriers to access for those families,” Duck told the Daily in an email. “My job in Admissions, then, is to help build pipelines and processes that allow and encourage students of all backgrounds to consider a Tufts education.”
Duck said his passion for admissions came from his desire to understand future generations.
“Someone once told me that working in admissions is like having a front-row seat to the future, that makes a lot of sense to me,” he said. “We read their essays, we meet them in their high schools and communities, we interview them over coffee, and we eventually welcome them into our community.”
Dean of Admissions and Enrollment Management ad interim Susan Ardizzoni has long known the new dean not only as a counterpart in the admissions world, but also as a colleague within the Tufts Admissions Office.
“When he was in grad school at Harvard, we hired him as an outside reader,” she said. “JT and I have always found it easy to talk and confer, I think he would agree, and I anticipate this to continue as he begins his new role at Tufts.”
Since his first experience at Tufts, Duck has always considered the possibility of returning to the university.
“Tufts has long been a special institution to me,” he said. “The strength of its academic program across the liberal arts, engineering and fine arts, as well as its commitment to innovation and global citizenship, resonate with me.”
Concerning specific changes planned for admissions, Duck noted the continued importance of technology in admissions as a tool to reach out to potential applicants.
“A university’s admissions website is among the most important of the vehicles an institution uses to communicate with prospective students,” he said. “The Admissions Office actively thinks about how potential applicants to Tufts interact with our website. As the needs and expectations of our prospective students evolve, we will work to keep our website fresh and current.”
Ayden Crosby, chairman of the Tufts Community Union Senate Education Committee, said he sees Duck’s appointment positively, and he believes the new dean’s previous experiences will lead him to pursue policies that will continue to promote the Tufts admissions process as a comfortable experience for applicants.
“I had a pretty positive experience with [Tufts] admissions … I think it can be super daunting and intimidating … but it was always very encouraging and never seemed super intimidating,” Crosby, a junior, said. “[Duck] seems super aware of the social issues that surround higher education. Higher education [is] sort of a hot button issue and it is important that whoever is higher up is aware of that and can put their work in context of that.”
Duck begins his time at Tufts starting Sept. 12. He acknowledges the uniqueness of his new place of work and is eager to understand the ins-and-outs of the school.
“The more conversations I have, the more equipped I will be to guide the Admissions Office to recruit, admit, and enroll the students who are most likely to contribute to and benefit from Tufts,” he said. “It is an honor to serve Tufts in this capacity.”