The committee met periodically throughout the 2010-11 academic year. During the first meeting of the year, Kedra Ishop, director of admissions, conducted a presentation for the full Admissions and Registration Committee describing the structure and process of admissions and the role of the faculty. The presentation explained the impact of HB 588 on admissions, the CAP program, out-of-state admissions, and the expansion of the field offices. Associate Vice President Shelby Stanfield gave a quick overview of the various roles of the Office of the Registrar.
Pursuant to directions from the Faculty Council, we identified three areas for priority discussion during the academic year. These were:
Ways to increase the yield from admitted top prospect students. At the moment, there is a disconcerting gap between the number of the very best students that are admitted to the University and those who choose to actually enroll. There are obviously many elements in a student’s decision on which college or university to attend about which the committee can do nothing, e.g., financial aid packages, size of school, geographical situation. However, our discussions did result in the following suggestions for ways in which to increase faculty involvement in the process of attracting these premier students. The following are our recommendations for identifying suitable faculty:
Department chairs should be involved in the faculty nomination process. At the moment, faculty members are chosen to participate in the process on the suggestion of the college advisors. Advisers have the advantage of wide-based student input, but chairs are probably in the best position to identify the strengths of all of the faculty members in their departments.
Deans’ offices should consult lists of nominees for various teaching awards, as well as the winners, when compiling a list of appropriate faculty members.
Service organizations and First-year Interest Group (FIG) organizers should be asked who made a particularly successful connection with the students.
Faculty advisors who are accustomed to discussing the value of their particular program with prospective majors should be invited to address a wider audience.
Faculty so identified could be encouraged to participate in the following ways:
Attend the more general recruitment events, which are the first exposure top prospective students have to the University as an academic entity. We should not assume from the outset that the best students are going to be attracted to or attend UT and wait until they have applied to engage with them.
After the top prospective students have been admitted, the faculty members who have been selected to contact the students should do so via email or postcard to personally offer advice and information regarding the program of interest to the student.
The committee will send a letter to the deans of the various colleges and schools requesting that they help implement and coordinate efforts in this area within their own college or school.
Academic criteria for the admission of students gifted in the arts. The College of Fine Arts requires portfolios of its applicants and the School of Music, and the Department of Theatre and Dance auditions, which are good screening devices for identifying talent, but occasionally some truly talented students have not been admitted because their academic credentials fell just below the threshold for admission.
The situation was compared to athletics where the problem is addressed by awarding an outstanding athlete a scholarship, which allows for a slight expansion of the academic threshold in a holistic review of their application. Their potential to succeed academically at the University is weighed in light of the tutoring support, etc., they will receive while in the athletics program. The College of Fine Arts, the School of Music, and the Department of Theatre and Dance do have some scholarships, but not a sufficient number to fill all their needs, nor do they have the tutoring support in place, though it was pointed out that some students who fell just below the academic threshold for admission and for whose admission the College of Fine Arts, the School of Music, and the Department of Theatre and Dance had advocated have gone on to do well at UT.
The College of Fine Arts, the School of Music, and the Department of Theatre & Dance have begun identifying gifted artists early in their high school career and explaining the importance of also doing their best academically if they are hoping to be admitted to UT.
It was recognized that many truly gifted students with no academic leanings would be better served by a conservatory. It was also recognized that the committee was not the body to devise the actual numerical formula that could be applied to portfolios and auditions.
At this stage, the College of Fine Arts, the School of Music, and the Department of Theatre and Dance were interested in starting the conversation with the admissions office about keeping artistically gifted students who fell just below the academic threshold for admission in the pool of students whose application could be considered holistically and felt that on that score things were going well.
At the end of the year, it was reported that the College of Fine Arts had had 100 percent success in attracting the students they had identified as particularly gifted artists.
The admission of children of faculty members. HB 588 has in some cases led to faculty having to work closely with students who arrive at UT under-prepared for the work in their courses. If their own children, who are high achievers but fall outside the top 10 percent at local high schools, are denied admission it can lead to a lowering of faculty morale and sense of loyalty to the University.
The number of students who would likely be admitted under these circumstances is very small. Of UT’s ~2000 faculty members in any given year not that many will have seniors in high school. Some faculty children will fall in the top 10 percent at their schools anyway, while others will prefer to go outside Austin for their undergraduate degree. And it is not suggested that faculty children should be admitted if they are not clearly capable of performing well at UT.
On the other hand, there are groups that make a clear contribution to the success of UT’s mission and many would balk at an advantage in admission being extended to faculty children but not to children of staff and alumni, which would mean that a very high number of students would be eligible.
Of twenty-three peer institutions that were surveyed, only one gave preferential status to the children of faculty. Two institutions asked a direct question about faculty parentage on the application form but gave the status no special consideration, three other institutions said they tracked the applications of faculty children but again gave them no special consideration. Other institutions gave faculty children access to a senior counselor or held information sessions and receptions for faculty to explain the application process. One school waived the application fee and deposit for faculty children and another offered small scholarships to this group.
It was agreed that there should be no “points” awarded in the admissions formula for being a child of a faculty member.
It was agreed that there should be no direct question about faculty parentage on the application form but that, in the prompt for the third essay where applicants are given the opportunity to supply “Other Information,” language should be added asking them, e.g., what familiarity they have with UT and why they think they would be successful here. Students could include information of their familiarity with UT through their parents (faculty, staff, or alumni) that could be taken into consideration in a holistic review of their dossier.
It was agreed that it would be a good idea to hold information sessions for faculty whose children were considering applying to UT and in those sessions to point out the opportunity for applicants to identify themselves as children of faculty members in the third essay on the application form.