Chancellor-designate Linda Katehi’s name was not among those accused of participating in a problematic admissions process at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
A report submitted last Thursday by the Illinois Admissions Review Commission identified several administrators, including the chancellor and an assistant provost, of having been involved in the admissions scheme.
Katehi released a statement in which she expressed optimism for the report’s suggestions.
“The commission has produced a thorough and responsive report that I believe will help restore the public’s trust in the University of Illinois‘ admissions process,” the statement read.
“As chancellor at UC Davis, I look forward to supporting the dedicated Student Affairs staff in their efforts to enroll students of accomplishment and promise in ways consistent with the values and policies of the University of California.“
The case’s hearings revealed a long history of Category I admissions, or admitting students based on their status or associations and not necessarily on their merit. Members of the board of trustees and other university officials testified. Many admitted that the “clout list” had existed for decades, and that this type of admissions was not uncommon among universities.
After the hearings, the commission released the 45-page report, which provided a comprehensive evaluation of the “influence of power and money” on the admissions process, as well as ways to correct future influence.
The commission recommended that the entire board of trustees submit letters of resignation. Three board members have already resigned, and two have refused to resign, stating in a Chicago Tribune article that resigning would be admitting guilt.
“If I jump to submit a letter of resignation now, it would say I was agreeing with the panel’s recommendations,” said Trustee Kenneth Schmidt in the Tribune’s article. “I do not agree with all the panel’s recommendations and therefore, I will not do that.”
Schmidt was singled out in the report for forwarding the names of six students in the last three years. He also recommended in an e-mail that admissions handle a relative’s law school application with “velvet gloves.”
The report made no mention of Katehi, whom The Tribune previously linked to the Category I admissions based on her e-mail correspondence with admissions staff. The e-mail identified one applicant as the daughter of a “fairly prominent Greek family in Chicago.” Upon hearing of the applicant’s admittance Katehi responded in e-mail with “excellent.“
Katehi responded to the article with a statement claiming the e-mail was not evidence she had knowledge of the Category I admissions scheme but that she was merely passing on a request for information.
The commission’s report noted the University of California as one of two schools in the country with policies prohibiting admissions related abuses.
“The absence of a policy that specifically prohibited undue influence in admissions contributed to the admissions-related abuses described in this report,” the report said. “This is not atypical; with a few notable exceptions (e.g., the University of Washington, the University of California), American universities have not undertaken to adopt policies or guidelines that touch on this topic.“
The policies reference two current UC policies barring development considerations from influencing admissions decisions and prohibiting regents from participating in those decisions.
“I share those values [and] respect those policies,” said Katehi, who will take office on Aug. 17.
LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.