Monday, December 21, 2015

U.T. Admissions: Business as Usual under Fenves

"Through God we will do valiantly,
For it is He who shall tread down our enemies."

Psalm 60:12

New boss same as the old boss:
After years of controversy about admissions at the University of Texas involving letters of recommendation and accusations of “undue influence,” lawmakers have stopped writing those letters directly to the university’s president.

But big donors and well-known Texans still are.

Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, UT donor Mike Myers and Houston attorney Roy Camberg are among those writing to help individual students, letters obtained by The Dallas Morning News under state open records laws show.

Just 12 such letters went directly to UT President Gregory L. Fenves, the records show. None came from Texas lawmakers, who were at the center of an investigation, called the Kroll Report, which found that they, along with donors and UT System regents, helped a group of 73 underqualified students get into UT-Austin over a period of several years.


After the Kroll Report, the UT System approved a new admissions policy that would allow university presidents to intervene in admissions but only in “very rare cases.”

Presidents are also required to inform the chancellor of instances in which they intervene, and they cannot admit any underqualified applicants.

UT System Regent Wallace Hall, who was a vocal critic of the admissions policy when the regents passed it earlier this year, said in a statement to the Morning News that the influence of these letters is unknown.

“As the new admissions policy specifically prohibits any verifiable oversight of admissions by the Board of Regents, these letters and other communications should come as no surprise,” Hall said in the statement. “Their impact and propriety can neither be known or understood by the governing board, which means no accountability.”

UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven has defended the policy, saying it is fair to students while giving university presidents flexibility to do their jobs.

Hall is suing McRaven for access to the underlying records in the Kroll Report. The UT System was willing to give Hall the records with confidential student information redacted, but he said the records are meaningless with redactions. This week a state district judge threw out the case, but Hall is appealing the decision.
 Read the whole thing here.

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