June 9, 2008 — John A. Blackburn, the University of Virginia's longest-serving dean of admission, announced today he will retire in June 2009, ending a three-decade career at the University.
Blackburn, 66, came to the Office of Admission in 1979 as an associate dean. U.Va. President John T. Casteen III, at that time the University's dean of admission, hired Blackburn.
Six years later, following the death of then-dean Jean Rayburn, Blackburn was appointed to the position. During his tenure, Blackburn has been a champion for increasing diversity at the University and been responsible for building each entering class for the past 23 years. He has traveled widely in the United States and abroad in order to recruit students of many backgrounds.
He also has become a national expert on college admissions, speaking often at major conferences and having been quoted widely in the media on admissions-related topics. He has been active in several national organizations, including serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of the College Board, the profession's leading organization.
"Jack Blackburn is one of the most highly regarded deans of admission in the country," Casteen said. "He is a respected colleague and friend who has spent his career working to build the excellence of our student body and to ensure opportunities to students everywhere. His personal grace, wisdom and generosity of spirit have touched many of the thousands of students he has recruited to the University and who consider him a lifelong friend."
Gordon M. Stewart, an associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences who for the past three years has chaired the President's Committee on Undergraduate Admissions, will chair the search committee Blackburn's successor. The search committee will include faculty, student and alumni representatives.