New Admissions Dean Curvin Outlines Her Goals


Michael Borenstein

“[We are] continuing to think about who the next generation of students is and what they might look like, and thinking about how the mission of the college will drive that conversation as we’re recruiting,” said Incoming Dean of Admissions Nicole Curvin.


After growing up in a family of educators, incoming Dean of Admissions Nicole Curvin initially avoided pursuing a career in education. But she soon changed her mind, intrigued by the vitality and constantly changing nature of higher education. 

“What I realized, ultimately, is that one of the best places to have a job is on a college campus,” said Curvin, who currently serves as director of admissions. “You have an influx of energetic and excited students each year. You have faculty who are amazing at their discipline and can inform you of pretty much any topic that you’re thinking about in your life.” 

Curvin will begin her new role as dean of admissions on July 1, succeeding Greg Buckles, who will leave for the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey on June 30. In the context of a national conversation regarding the ethics of higher education admissions practices, Curvin hopes to continue fair admissions processes at Middlebury, maintaining a holistic review of candidates and focusing on creating a suitable fit between the student and the campus community. 

“We remain fully committed to the integrity of the admissions process and of all the pieces that go into that, whether it’s athletic recruiting or working with our legacy community,” Curvin said. “Our hope and our aim is to attract amazing students and to encourage them to consider Middlebury as an option. I will continue to be transparent in the admissions process for Middlebury, understanding that we have to say no to a large percentage of the students.” 

Curvin, who began working at Middlebury in 2014, has spent much of her time at admissions focusing on access and inclusivity to the college. Curvin is involved in the selection of Posse Scholars, a program that provides full-tuition scholarships to students with academic and leadership potential who may otherwise be overlooked in the admissions process. Each year, Middlebury typically recruits about 30 students from three different cities.

Curvin emphasized that recruitment efforts extend well beyond the Posse program. Appointed coordinator of multicultural recruitment in 2017, Curvin helped develop outreach strategies, working with community groups and organizations to ensure that first-generation students, undocumented students and students of color are well-represented on campus. According to Curvin, these efforts have attracted over 2,000 applications from students of color. 

As Curvin transitions into her new position, she has several objectives that she hopes to pursue along with the rest of the admissions team. Curvin hopes to establish more “touchpoints” on campus between admissions and faculty, staff and students to think about the bigger picture of college admissions at Middlebury. Another goal is to improve collaboration between Middlebury and other colleges in order to reach communities that may not have heard of Middlebury or other liberal arts institutions. Such partnerships could allow schools to exchange ideas about recruitment and financial aid practices, and help facilitate visits for prospective students to multiple schools in the same region. 

Nicole Curvin will assume the role of Dean of Admissions on July 1

“[We are] continuing to think about who the next generation of students is and what they might look like, and thinking about how the mission of the college will drive that conversation as we’re recruiting,” Curvin said.

During Curvin’s twenty years in admissions, academic advising and career counseling, she has become frustrated by the narrative that a student must make the “right” decision regarding which school to attend. 

“Some students are losing sight of this idea of fit,” Curvin said. “The disappointment comes in peeling away the important parts of the conversation regarding a college choice. And in drilling this idea that there are only a few places that students can be successful or have this outcome. And to watch students think that there’s this ‘dream’ place that they need to be.” 

While the admissions team has worked to put Middlebury on the map both nationally and internationally, Curvin recognizes that one barrier to a diverse student body is getting students to come to Middlebury to experience the campus culture for themselves. Most students who currently visit campus have the financial and social means of getting to Middlebury. Curvin supports expanding programs that facilitate prospective student visits to Middlebury, and that have counselors advocate for those students to learn about Middlebury’s curricular and extracurricular offerings. 

“One of the ways that we can impress about students that this could be a place for them is for them to see it and experience it,” Curvin said. 

This past week, Curvin has been to nearly a dozen college fairs around New York City. These recruitment trips allow Curvin to talk with students and inform them of Middlebury’s offerings, answer general questions about the college process, and encourage them to visit Middlebury’s campus in person. 

“That’s another really eye-opening part of the recruitment work that we do, is that we go to so many different types of high schools,” Curvin said. “We can be in a private school with a lot of resources, or we can be in a big public school that has limited resources, but it has amazing students, and great programs. And it gives you some perspective when you come back to campus and you’re reading those applications. There are no two students who are alike, and there are no two high schools that are alike. There are hundreds of different varieties, and just trying to figure out that match is important.”