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Monday, February 23, 2015
Revelations at UT Law School Underscore Legacy Admission Concerns
In a damning 104-page investigative report released last week, it was revealed that University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers, routinely circumnavigated the admissions system, giving favorable advantage to select students.
The report notes that approximately 73 students with test scores and grades that fell below UT's traditional standards were admitted based upon the "bump" they received from Powers. A handful more of arguably unqualified candidates were admitted at the law school level with his assistance.
More disturbing is the fact that Powers put his thumb on the proverbial scale for several hundred candidates to the undergraduate and law school campuses. That these students ultimately may have been admitted based upon their qualifications alone offers some comfort. But let's be honest. It still isn't fair.
The beneficiaries of Powers' special treatment were not named in the report, but it was suggested that they included children of power players within the state of Texas, including legislators and members of the Texas Board of Regents. The report also illuminated the high volume of requests for preferential treatment made by families within the Texas elite. Such requests are often forwarded directly to the President, giving the impression that he-and not a neutral admission body-holds the final say on admission.
While legacy admissions are well-recognized, they are rarely well-reported. Preference given to elite alumni are deemed to be healthy for a school's bottom line and reputation, but can hardly be regarded as objective or fair to the average qualified candidate.
Whether the report has any long-term effect on Powers' job or UT's admissions policies remains to be seen. But it is an unsavory referendum on the state of admissions, one which may be just the tip of a very large iceberg.
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