Presidents of Texas A&M and UT Testify Before Senate Higher Education Sub-Committee
Dr. Larry Faulkner, President of the University of Texas, and Dr. Robert Gates, President of Texas A&M University, gave recommendations regarding the Texas' top ten-percent rule and its impact on the state's two largest schools. The ten-percent rule mandates that any student graduating in the top ten percent of his or her high-school class is automatically admitted to any Texas state school. This law passed following the U.S. Appeals Court decision of 1996, Hopwood v. University of Texas Law School, which forbade officials from considering race as a factor for admission. The ten-percent rule was intended to insure that minority students still had a route into college, but Faulkner and Gates agreed that the rule, while not without benefit, has brought about serious consequences. According to testimony, 75 percent of UT applicants and 53 percent of Texas A&M applicants were admitted in 2003 under the top ten-percent rule. Faulkner says this limits the number of students who can be evaluated for admission on other criteria rather than class ranking. Moreover, Faulkner and Gates both said that because of the ten-percent rule, almost all freshmen will have been admitted base on class rank, ignoring traditionally important criteria such as exam scores, extracurricular activities, and social service.
Faulkner and Gates each offered a number of solutions to the problem. Both men agreed the best solution that allows for a more complete admissions process and preserves the intent of the top ten-percent rule is to impose a cap on incoming freshman, allowing only a certain percent of students to be admitted based on class rank. Should the applicants for an incoming class exceed this cap, than the school should show preference based on higher class rank. For example, the top one percent would be admitted, then the top two percent and so on until the cap is reached. Faulkner also proposed a five-percent rule, but admitted it would be a short term fix.
Sub-Committee Chair Senator Royce West said he wants to meet with admissions officials, board of trustee members, and other experts in order to determine the best solution to this problem. Other members of the sub-committee are Senators Kip Averitt, Leticia Van de Putte, Kyle Janek, and Todd Staples.