As if running college admission weren’t a big enough job, the University of Virginia recently created an even bigger one, vice provost for enrollment. The new office combines responsibility for undergraduate admission, student financial services and the registrar’s office.

The new officeholder is Stephen M. Farmer (Grad ’86), who jumped from a similar post at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in January—just in time for the uncharted challenges of a pandemic, as standardized tests went optional, and the volume of applications went through the roof.

Over the summer, at the end of the most recent admissions cycle, Virginia Magazine Editor Richard Gard sat down with Farmer on the Pavilion VII garden veranda of the Colonnade Club. Their conversation focused on the highest-profile component of Farmer’s responsibilities, undergraduate admissions. See topical highlights of the discussion below.

When you do, you might notice an admissions tour pass by behind the garden’s serpentine wall, as if on cue. You’re sure to hear the backup beepers of construction vehicles, a traditional sound of summer on Grounds as crews hustle to complete projects before the start of a new academic year.

Look for a fuller version of the conversation in the winter 2021 issue of Virginia Magazine.

On applicants as people first

On delivering the hard news of rejection

On the “blunt tool” of standardized testing

On the value of student diversity

On the importance of first-generation students

On legacy admissions

On deciding to come to UVA