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Admissions Office Records

Identifier: 0000-0052

Scope and contents

The bulk of the Admissions Office records date from William F. Elliott's time as Vice Provost (later vice president) of Enrollment (from 1973 onwards). The core of the collection is comprised of Annual Reports (1940-1973), and of Marketing Action Plans (1975-1993), which contain comprehensive data about applicants and programs, and well as strategy statements. Closely related are standalone reports of studies on applicants and non-applicants.

A substantial part of the collection is constituted by publications and promotional items aimed at prospective students and their parents. In addition to general view books, catalogs and leaflets, the Admissions Office produced brochures addressing specific topics such as financial aid, individual schools and degree programs, and opportunities for minority students.

The collection also contains datasets on applicants, inter-office correspondence and memoranda, templates of letters to students, general research articles on academic marketing, and some material related to the Carnegie Mellon Admission Council (CMAC).


  • Majority of material found within 1940-2006
  • 1931-2006

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open with some restrictions. Administrative records are closed for 20 years after their date of creation. Some additional material is closed due to the presence of student information.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is held by Carnegie Mellon University.


Under Alan Bright, registrar from 1918 to 1940, the recruiting of students, handling of admissions, and recording were coordinated functions. Assessing credentials of prospective students was the responsibility of Philip S. Barto from 1922 to 1939. In 1940, John M. Daniels was named Chairman (later Director) of the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions, which was responsible for assessing credentials as well as for recruiting students. The Committee reported to the newly created Division of Student Personnel and Welfare (renamed the Division of Students Affairs in 1960).

Daniels instituted a number of changes. Beginning in 1955, all candidates were required to take the SAT Test of the College Entrance Examination Board. In 1962, the school adopted an early decision plan by which outstanding candidates were informed of their Fall admissions in December rather than in Spring.

The role of alumni in the recruitment process was reinforced. From an early period alumni had supported the Committee on Admissions by encouraging students to apply and conducting preliminary interviews with prospective students. In 1962 a new office of Admissions Counseling (later merged with the Admissions Office) was established, whose main function was to organize the Carnegie Admissions Council (now Carnegie Mellon Admissions Council, or CMAC), a formal network of alumni who acted as admissions counselor across the United States on behalf of Carnegie Tech.

Daniels was followed as Director of Admissions by Kenneth J. Wenger (1963-1970) and Robert W. Siekman (1970-1972). In 1968, the Admissions Office became administered by the Office of the Vice President for Administration and Planning.

William F. Elliott became director of admissions in 1972. The office of Vice Provost (later Vice President) of Enrollment was established for him in 1973 to help reverse a trend of stagnating enrollment. The office was responsible for coordinating admissions, registrations, financial aid, and career planning.

Elliott developed a yearly “Marketing Action Plan” to accomplish President Cyert’s aim to move from a regional to a national admissions base. One of Elliott’s first actions was to bring prospective students to the University for a “Sleeping Bag Weekend” to spend a night on campus and sit in on classes, an initiative which proved hugely popular. Admissions staff conducted studies on factors determining college choice, including finances. This led to the production of a financial aid brochure in the mid-1970s and the development of an “Early Financial Aid/Need Analysis” program that used information supplied by parents and provided applicants with estimates of what financial aid they could expect. The Admissions Office also developed a series of consistently branded material which was sent to high school counselors, parents and students, including brochures targeting minorities.

Geographical distribution of the student body shifted from 60% Pennsylvanian in 1972 to 15% in 2008, and the graduate percentage increased. The number of applications increased dramatically, from 3,500 in 1970 to 25,000 in 2008, allowing Carnegie Mellon to become one of the country's most selective universities.

When William Elliott retired in 2008, the Admissions Office started reporting directly to the Provost and Executive Vice President. As of 2013, the Admission Office, located in Warner Hall, is headed by Michael A. Steidel, who has been Director of Admissions since 1986.

For a history of admissions under the Cyert presidency, see Schaefer, Ludwig F. Evolution of a National Research University: 1965-1990. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1992, p.378-384.


8.0 Linear feet (8 boxes)




This collection contains the records of the Admissions Office. The majority of the collection consists of annual Reports and Marketing Action Plans, as well as publications for prospective and enrolling students. The collection also contains datasets and studies on CMU admissions, correspondence and memoranda, general research material on academic marketing, and some material about the Carnegie Mellon Admission Council (CMAC).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The records were transferred to the Archives from the Admissions Office in multiple accessions.

Admissions Office Records, 1932-2003
Finding aid prepared by Laure Bukh
May 3, 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2024-03-12: This finding aid was reviewed during a reparative language review in March 2024. It may contain language considered to be outdated and/or offensive. The original language was retained as it was quoted from the original sources and provides important context about materials, their creators, and/or the society in which the materials were created.

Repository Details

Part of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives Repository

4909 Frew St
Pittsburgh PA 15213
(412) 268-5021