Tavares, FL Dec. 27, 2015
A major investigation in Texas found the University of Texas (UT) waived admissions criteria for hundreds of students "with connections" like wealthy alumni or legislators.
Then an education journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education, followed up and examined admissions records for 13 major universities and found Florida State University also waiving entrance criteria for some students.
But the University of Texas was the most blatant, allowing admission by many students who had low grades or did not meet other critieria, but had connections. The University President was fired. The UT scandal was reported by Watchdog.com HERE.
The original Nov. 29, 2015 report on the Chronicle of Higher Education webite (HERE) is restricted to members who pay the $99/year subscription fee so we could not get that.
Fortunately, details of the investigation were published by Florida Watchdog, part of the nationwide Watchdog.com network, which disclosed most information HERE. Note: This article was originally written by the Texas Watchdog blog so it has a Texas focus but keeps returning to FSU (probably due to editing by the Florida Watchdog editor).
The Chronicle found that board members and presidents at many of the universities occasionally checked in on the applications of friends, family and contacts, but only found it a common practice at Florida State University, which had roughly 40 such inquiries during the past academic year."
"The Chronicle opened its article with the most striking case of string-pulling it found (again at FSU):
“Last spring, Brent W. Sembler saw an opening that might help him land a big gift.
“As he had done many times before, the Florida State University trustee sent a query to Janice V. Finney, longtime director of admissions. Was this student, who had been denied in December, perhaps ‘admissible?’ Mr. Sembler asked.
“‘Here’s why I’m asking,’ the trustee wrote in an email. The student’s ‘family is capable of funding our new Business School!’
“With a core grade-point average below 3.0, Ms. Finney said, fall admission was not possible. But she would ‘work with him for January.’”
So it appears at least one Florida taxpayer funded university can discriminate and waive entry criteria for connected students. In some world, making such a decision to get financial gain would be called bribery and a crime.
More from the Watchdog article: "That suggests a boundary for admissions influence at FSU: dad’s extreme wealth and donor potential might get a student admitted a semester late; other records suggest that even at FSU, the balance of power lies with the admissions office."
Also in Florida:
"A trustee at New College of Florida tried to intervene on behalf of an applicant from an elite private school, telling the admissions director he hoped he had “the good sense to take kids from St Stephen’s if they are qualified.”
That applicant was ultimately rejected, unlike dozens of weak students UT admitted from a handful of elite private schools."
However, not all the 13 examined universities waived entrance criteria, and there are descriptions of some universities where important alumni complained they could get unqualified students into the university, or that the University President turned down all such requests.
So, Florida the Huckster State. continues to show us lower ethics in another area - College admissions, but they aren't alone - Texas had the largest volume of waivers at the University of Texas. Keep in mind that the Chronicle only looked at 13 universities, so for all we know the problem is worse at other taxpayer funded Florida colleges.