K. Lloyd Billingsley - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research
Billingsley is Editorial Director for the Pacific
Research Institute and has been widely published on topics
including on popular culture, defense policy, education reform,
and many other current policy issues. [go to Billingsley index]
Admissions: Same as the Old Boss?
A time of change or the same old thing?
[K. Lloyd Billingsley] 11/5/03
On October 1, Robert C. Dynes took over as president
of University of California, replacing Richard Atkinson, whose
admissions policy presented the new UC president with his first
problem. Californians should be watching how, or rather if,
he solves it.
Atkinson, a politically
correct administrator, launched a "comprehensive
review" process of admissions that downplayed the SAT and
gave weight to other factors not so easily quantified, such as
hardship, leadership, and talent. Under comprehensive review,
as an October report by UC Board of Regents Chairman John J.
Moores revealed, hundreds of students got into Berkeley with
SAT scores far below the average of 1,337. In fact, 381 students
admitted to Berkeley last year ranged from an abysmal 600 - one
gets 400 for simply taking the test - to a mediocre 1,000.
the other hand, Berkeley rejected 3,200 applicants with scores
of 1,400 or higher, out of a possible 1,600. President Dynes
responded by showing a strong grasp of the obvious.
"This current issue taps into some very real feelings," he
said at an October meeting in Sacramento. Indeed. A student scoring
above 1,400 on the SAT might not feel too elated about being
rejected by Berkeley, especially when they were passed over for
someone with a score of 600. The new UC boss, whose background
is in research rather than administration, knows something is
"When we identify problems in our processes, we need to
fix them," he
said. On the other hand, Dynes said that SAT scores cannot be
the sole measure of merit, and that "creativity, imagination,
motivation, and just plain hard work have to count." Dynes
said he supports comprehensive review and believes that the UC
must reflect the diversity of California.
In current politically
correct usage, diversity means that all institutions must reflect
the ethnic breakdown of society. That
can only be accomplished by ignoring personal differences,
effort, and choice. It also means turning a blind eye to the
law of California,
mandated by the voters, which forbids preferences based on
race and gender.
always need to be questioning how to do it [admissions] better," Dynes
said. That is not a complicated issue.
University of California is not a social club but a school
of global reputation,
the SAT should be restored to prominence
in admissions. The UC can make admissions better by not discriminating
against high-scoring students simply because of their background,
particularly Asian, on the grounds that if admitted there would
be "too many" of them and it just wouldn't look good.
The UC can take affirmative action to help students but should
do so on an economic, not ethnic, basis.
To his credit, Dynes
agreed to a systemwide study of admissions. While a good idea,
if such a study is to be credible it should
be conducted by investigators outside of the UC system. They
should be given full access and be familiar with past UC efforts
to rig admissions. Above all, they should know the law and
be willing to apply and enforce it.
That should also be true
of the University of California's president. As the response
to the Moores report confirmed,
don't want things the same as the old boss.
2003 Pacific Research Institute