Kedra Ishop

Photo courtesy of University of Texas at Austin 

Kedra Ishop, vice provost and director of admissions, is leaving her position at the University in July after working in the admissions office for 16 years.

Ishop is resigning to become the associate vice president of enrollment management at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, if approved by Michigan’s Board of Regents. Ishop began working in UT’s admissions office in 1998 as an admissions counselor and in 2009 became the director of admissions.

“It has been a fulfilling challenge to select for the University of Texas at Austin some of the most dynamic classes in our history,” Ishop said in an email. “Seeking excellence has been our challenge both in our recruitment practices and admissions practices.”

Ishop is leaving the office as the UT System opens a new investigation into the University’s admissions process to be carried out by an outside firm. UT spokesman Gary Susswein said the University will be complying with the investigation.

In a statement, President William Powers Jr. said he believes there have been positive changes at the admissions office under Ishop’s leadership, such as its emphasis on holistic review during the application process.

“[Ishop] has spearheaded UT Austin’s efforts to use holistic admissions policies to put together outstanding incoming classes and she has helped us defend our values in the U.S. Supreme Court,” Powers said. “We will miss Kedra immensely but couldn’t be prouder of her as she accepts this opportunity to shape enrollment and student success at one of the nation’s best public research universities.”

Holistic review is one of the two ways freshman applicants can be admitted to the University and is used by the admissions office when an applicant is not automatically admitted under the Texas Top 10 Percent Rule.  Under the University’s holistic review policy, an applicant’s academic achievement, personal achievement and special circumstances are considered.

Gregory Fenves, executive vice president and provost, said Ishop’s endorsement of the holistic review process and her role in its development have been one of her most important contributions to the University.

“Dr. Ishop was a national leader in developing a holistic review [process] for undergraduate admissions,” Fenves said in a statement. “UT Austin is now seen as having one of the best admissions processes of any public university in the country.”

In 2009, the Texas Legislature passed a bill lowering the number of Texas students the University must automatically admit to below 10 percent. According to Ishop, the changes were necessary because the number of applicants have greatly increased in the past 20 years.

“Modifications to the Top 10 Percent law has allowed the university to not only honor the diversity of the top students of high schools across Texas but to also fulfill the mission to identify talent and leadership across the spectrum of a student’s application,” Ishop said.

At Michigan, Ishop will oversee admissions, the registrar’s office, new programs for student success and financial aid. The University will conduct a national search for a new director.

The requirement for high school students to qualify for automatic admission into the University of Texas at Austin has become more rigorous for students planning to enter in 2014.

The University determined high school juniors interested in applying to UT will now be required to graduate in the top 7 percent of their class to qualify for automatic admission, UT President William Powers Jr. said in a letter to State Education Commissioner Michael Williams in September.

The Texas Education Agency announced the news on its website Tuesday evening. For the past three years, automatic admission to the University was restricted to students who graduated in the top 8 or 9 percent of their class.

Since 1997, all top 10 percent Texas high school graduates received automatic admission to any public Texas university of their choice. In 2009, the state legislature modified the automatic admission program for UT, allowing it to automatically admit enough students to fill 75 percent of its total admitted students instead of any top 10 percent graduate. The modified law first went into effect for students entering the University in 2011.

The University is required to determine high school class rank requirements two years in advance to notify current high school juniors of the change.

Kedra Ishop, vice provost and director of admissions, said the University uses its enrollment figures to predict the number of students who will qualify for automatic admission. The University then uses that estimate to determine the class rank requirement needed to limit automatically admitted students to 75 percent of incoming in-state freshmen, Ishop said.

“We have done this every year since the bill was passed, and this is the lowest the rank requirement has gotten,” Ishop said. “The first year the mark was 8 percent, the second was 9 percent and then back to 8 percent for those applying this year.”

She said the large number of incoming freshmen this year — the largest in UT’s history­ at 8,092 students — had an impact in determining the threshold for automatic admission to the University in 2014.

“Given that the incoming freshman class from 2012 was much larger than we expected it to be, we had to choose 7 percent in order to meet the threshold requirements dictated by the state,” Ishop said.

State Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, chair of the House Higher Education Committee, said he helped pass the legislation allowing UT to determine its own automatic admission requirements to give the University the ability to choose some of the students it admits using its holistic review process. He said nearly 85 percent of UT’s in-state freshmen were admitted automatically in 2011, the last year before the policy change.

“We want the University to be able to fill at least one fourth of [its] class through recruiting and holistic review so it can fill the various needs of the different colleges and keep the quality of the University,” Branch said.

Branch said no other university in Texas receives enough applications from students eligible for automatic admittance to warrant a similar limit anywhere other than UT-Austin.

The remaining slots available for students entering in 2014 will continue to be filled through holistic review, a process which considers an applicant’s academic and personal achievement.

Printed on Thursday, November 2, 2012 as: UT lowers automatic admission cutoff