The UT System Board of Regents voted 8-1 to approve a new admissions policy Thursday morning. The policy, which applies to all UT System academic institutions, outlines rules for how universities should handle letters of recommendation, influence from university presidents in the admissions process, and more.
The announcement follows a series of investigations into admissions practices at UT-Austin. In February, a report by the corporate investigation firm Kroll found that former UT president Bill Powers occasionally intervened in the admissions process on behalf of well-connected applicants.
“It is important to me that we have a policy that is fair to aspiring students, transparent to the public, and that supports excellence at our institutions,” UT System chancellor William McRaven said in a statement.
Under the new policy, admissions officers may not take the status of a letter-writer into account when considering letters of recommendation. The policy also allows university presidents to direct that applicants be admitted on “very rare” occasions, and only when the decision is of “highest institutional importance.” In those cases, the student must be well-qualified, he or she must not take another applicant’s spot, and the university president must inform the chancellor of the decision.
Regent Wallace Hall, who has been outspoken in his criticism of UT-Austin admissions practices, cast the sole dissenting vote.
“This memorializes bad acts from a hidden admissions program,” Hall told the Austin American-Statesman.
UT-Austin president Greg Fenves disagreed. “I fully support these rules, which UT-Austin will implement immediately,” Fenves said in a statement. “I thank Chancellor McRaven, Deputy Chancellor Daniel, Executive Vice Chancellor Leslie, and the Regents for their hard work and leadership on this issue.”
Read the new admissions policy in full here.
Photo by KamrenB Photography
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