UC Berkeley names new director of undergraduate admissions

Amy Jarich, a senior admissions official at the University of Virginia with an extensive background in admissions, public service and nonprofit work, has been selected as the University of California, Berkeley’s new assistant vice chancellor and director of undergraduate admissions.

Amy Jarich

Amy Jarich

Jarich, 39, will begin work Aug. 20. She succeeds Walter Robinson, who stepped down last year for a similar post at UC Davis.

The selection followed an extensive nationwide search that attracted more than 100 applicants and entailed candidate meetings and interviews with faculty, staff and students.

“I am very pleased that Amy Jarich will be joining the UC Berkeley community,” said Harry Le Grande, vice chancellor for student affairs, who participated in the selection process. “Her outstanding record as a senior administrator leading the admissions efforts at the University of Virginia demonstrates her sincere commitment to, and value for, public education. Amy is clearly a quick study with a down-to-earth style that will serve her well as she connects with prospective students and their families.”

Jarich currently serves as the senior associate dean, a No. 2 position in the University of Virginia admissions office. There, she has been involved in outreach, recruitment, oversight of admission applications and the management of computer systems designed to facilitate admissions work and further cultivate ties with student applicants.

When UC Berkeley officials offered her the job, Jarich said, she was honored to be invited to join such a strong community: “I was excited from the first moment I received the offer. I knew it was a great opportunity. The admissions staff is clearly dedicated to both their work and to the university. I am truly looking forward to working with them and the entire UC Berkeley community.”

The fact that UC Berkeley is a public university, considered the best in the nation if not in the world, added to the appeal. Though she went to private universities as a student – Sweet Briar College in Virginia as an undergraduate and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, for her master’s degree – Jarich has always been interested in public service and public education. She is also familiar with the San Francisco Bay Area, having lived on Treasure Island from 1999 to 2001 while doing fundraising work for CARE International, the humanitarian organization that seeks to fight global poverty.

Jarich said she believes in the value of experiential learning. Early in her career she participated in study abroad and interned at the U.S. Department of State, the White House and the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Later in her career, she moved into nonprofit work with various international development organizations including CARE International, and with a Washington, D.C.-based organization called First Book, where she oversaw regional teams that distributed new books to low-income children in communities across the country.

When an opportunity arose in 2003 to work in admissions at Radford University, a small public university in Virginia near her home town of Salem, Jarich accepted the position. Managing part of an admissions staff was a new career direction, but it felt like a natural transition, she said. Education transformed her life, and she had witnessed that same transformation in individual students’ lives in the United States and around the world.  After six years at Radford University, she moved on in 2009 to admissions work at the University of Virginia. Founded by Thomas Jefferson, it is the flagship university in the Virginia state university system and has approximately 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

At UC Berkeley, Jarich will manage a staff of 45 full-time employees and 75 application readers who work part time. She will oversee UC Berkeley’s undergraduate admissions process, which was established by faculty and the UC regents. She will also oversee local and worldwide outreach activities, and work closely on admissions matters with campus faculty, administrators and officials at the UC Office of the President, the UC’s systemwide headquarters.

Jarich said that as her role in admissions and the overall profession have evolved, her motivation remains the same. “Admissions ties together my talents and my passions. It is a good fit. I can still remember the first admissions officer who helped me understand the college selection process. My personal goal is to never lose sight of how powerful that moment was for me and my family.”

As a representative of a public university, she said her approach is not just to talk about the merits of attending the college or university she works for, but to also get prospective students thinking more broadly about their future, about the life they want after high school or community college. Jarich’s parents did not attend college, but they did teach her the value of hard work and encouraged her to think about all of life’s possibilities. Consequently, she said, she knows what it’s like to be a prospective student who is not certain which questions to ask or where to find answers. Through her admissions work, she seeks to reach those and other students.

“I didn’t follow a traditional path into admissions,” said Jarich. “I think that my story is one of self-reflection and discovery, and I’m thrilled that my non-traditional path has led me to UC Berkeley.”