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March 29, 2004   Columns Articles | Inside UGA | Council adopts diversity statement from faculty admissions…

Council adopts diversity statement from faculty admissions committee

March 29, 2004
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Using last year's Supreme Court ruling in the University of Michigan admissions case as a guideline, the University of Georgia has begun to develop a new set of admissions criteria designed to create greater racial, geographic, linguistic and experiential diversity in the student body.

The University Council on March 18 approved a statement submitted by its Faculty Admissions Committee that commits UGA to "prepare students to interact in an increasingly diverse workforce and society" by adopting "policies and practices to increase diversity among its entering students."

The statement specifies four factors for increasing diversity that should be used in evaluating freshman applicants-their race and ethnic background, where they live, their native language, and the range and quality of their experiences and backgrounds.

But the statement also requires a "highly individualized, holistic review" of applicants' files-language the Supreme Court used last summer in ruling that the University of Michigan could not use a point system in undergraduate admissions decisions, but that the university's law school could consider race as one of several factors in admissions.

Faculty Admissions Committee members Robert Gatewood and Charles Keith emphasized to the council that the statement is not a new admissions policy. They said it is a set of principles to help the committee and admissions office better understand the educational value of diversity and the notion of a "critical mass" of diverse students-another concept endorsed by the Supreme Court.

The admissions committee and admissions office will develop implementation procedures that will come back to the council as information before they are put into use, Gatewood and Keith said.

For the past two years UGA has based admissions decisions primarily on "demonstrated academic achievement," and admissions director Nancy McDuff and President Michael F. Adams said that will remain the case under any new criteria.
"The issue is not about admitting students who are not academically prepared," McDuff said. "It's making hard choices between students who are equally academically qualified."

The council received as information a draft of new promotion and tenure guidelines that have been developed by a faculty committee. The draft can be viewed on the Web at http://uc.reg.uga.edu/uc.nsf. A hearing to receive feedback and comment on the draft will be held April 7 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in room 350 of the Student Learning Center.

In other action, the council approved a request from its Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics to support a national group promoting "serious and comprehensive reform" of intercollegiate sports. The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, composed of more than 50 Division I-A schools in the Bowl Championship Series, proposes to give faculty members a stronger voice in working with university presidents, the NCAA, the AAUP and other groups to address "longstanding problems" that detract from "contributions athletics make to academic life."

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