Regents pass new UT policy to address 'rare admissions' concerns

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Regent Wallace Hall expresses his concerns regarding the new admissions policy during a UT System Board of Regents meeting Thursday.
Photo Credit: Thalia Juarez | Daily Texan Staff

The UT System Board of Regents passed a new UT admissions policy with a 7–1 vote at a meeting Thursday.

The policy addresses how letters of recommendation are handled and clarifies how to handle “rare admission decisions” beyond the normal process. The admissions policy change comes a few months after the February release of the Kroll Report, which found former University President William Powers Jr. admitted several unqualified students into the University.

The policy specifically outlines how letters of recommendation for University admissions are to be handled, and it also requires that no unqualified applicant be admitted. In a “rare admission decision,” in which students are accepted outside of usual protocol, the rationale of the admission has to be presented to UT System Chancellor William McRaven. David Daniel, deputy chancellor for the Board of Regents, said the policy is meant to eliminate a relationship status to determine admissions into UT.

Daniels said he, McRaven and Steven Leslie, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, reached the policy decisions by reviewing legal requirements, regents’ rules, an assessment created by academic affairs, the Kroll Report and the Blue Ribbon Panel led by former UT President Larry Faulkner.

“This policy is not going to satisfy every human being,” Daniels said. “I am confident it balances the overall admissions process for the best interest of the students. That is what a president’s job is — to make a university better and make the university great for students.”

Regent Wallace Hall, who has questioned the admissions process and is currently suing UT for not providing him information he requested, was the sole regent to vote against the proposal.
“This board has never been given the opportunity to either discuss the Kroll Report publicly or discuss admission policies,” Hall said. “This is a process that came up underneath us. This [policy] memorializes bad acts from a hidden admissions program.”

Hall said he is still concerned that the new admissions policy would not be viable without the board having access to the admissions process.

While Paul Foster, chairman of the Board of Regents, said he supports the new policy, he also stressed that it can be modified.

“This is a good policy,” Foster said. “Our objective, when we set out, has been about best practices throughout all higher education and [we have] come up with a policy that truly is fair to all concerns, and admits the right students and is the best.”

Shortly after the vote, University President Gregory Fenves said in a statement that he supports the decision.

“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.”