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Senate eyes admissions standards

By Amy Agronis on October 12, 2001 in University

The UC Davis Academic Senate’s Representative Assembly discussed possible changes to the University of California’s admissions criteria for close to two hours Tuesday afternoon, but failed to maintain a quorum for an advisory vote on the topic.

An informal vote taken after the meeting adjourned, however, did show that the majority of the 49 senate representatives present supported a new comprehensive review criteria for university admissions. That criteria could be used in the UC system as early as next month to determine 2002 admitted students.

Despite the lack of an assembly vote, UC Davis Academic Senate Chair Jeff Gibeling was expected consider an endorsement of the new criteria at a systemwide Academic Council meeting Wednesday. The council is made up of campus Academic Senate leaders.

"It is clear from the sense of this group (at the Tuesday meeting) that the proposal is supported," he said.

Tuesday’s UC Davis discussion was prompted by the UC Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools’ recent proposal that the university system use "multiple measures of achievement and promise" to select all eligible students for UC admission. Based on the BOARS theme of comprehensive review, the UC Davis Committee on Admissions and Enrollment has also proposed revising its formula for selecting UC Davis students.

The BOARS plan was driven by the UC Regents spring repeal of SP-1, banning the use of race, gender and ethnicity in admissions and specifying that 50 to 75 percent of entering classes must by selected on academic criteria alone.

While grades and SAT scores are still heavily weighted, the BOARS proposal eliminates the tiered system to, instead, select all students based on measures such as socioeconomic status, personal struggle, and school and community involvement, as well as academics.

Linguistics professor Patrick Farrell, the chair of the Committee on Admissions and Enrollment, said that the new comprehensive review is not expected to significantly change the profile of students admitted to UC Davis. If UC adopts the new selection standards, UC Davis would still use its same system of weighting students’ academic and personal achievements. The difference, he said, was that all students’ full range of achievements would be scrutinized, with top academic students not excluded.

"We want do something that is our own and is philosophically justified," Farrell said. "We are saying to applicants, ‘We are going to use the information you give us.’"

He also acknowledged that UC has faced state legislative pressure to open up its selection standards.

But some UC Davis faculty members said they could not yet support the new criteria, which was quickly developed by BOARS and local campus committees over the summer.

"We haven’t had enough time to discuss this or get faculty feedback," said Zhi Ding, professor of electrical engineering. "It’s very premature."

With or without UC Davis’ official weigh-in on the issue, the BOARS proposal will be voted on at the systemwide Academic Assembly meeting Oct. 31. The assembly has final Senate authority to approve the review process, Gibeling said. If the assembly supports the measures and the UC Regents vote to accept the proposal at their November meeting, it will become UC policy.

The BOARS and Committee on Admissions and Enrollment proposals, as well as existing admissions criteria, are available at www.mrak.ucdavis.edu/senate/documents.htm.

Media contact(s)

Amy Agronis, Dateline, (530) 752-1932, abagronis@ucdavis.edu

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