Archive for February, 2010
As I write this, UT is updating the admissions status for many of the more than 31,000 students who applied for the 2010-11 academic year. Applicants still awaiting a decision can check their status on the Be A Longhorn website, and most of the remaining admission decisions will be posted during the next few days.
About 14,000 applicants are going to receive good news. Congratulations! But I know it will be difficult for the rest of our applicants. And for every student who is declined admission, there’s a mother, a father, grandparents, and other family members who are equally disappointed. I think about those students and their families during this time.
As a father of five, I know it’s hard to see our children work hard to achieve a goal and then be disappointed by the outcome. I also know that there are thousands of families who have strong UT affiliations—some going back generations—who are going to ask why their children were not admitted.
I don’t have the words to express my regret that we cannot make room for all the highly qualified young people who applied. But we have a capacity problem. There’s only one University of Texas at Austin, and we are now approaching the highest enrollment in our history. Texas needs more national research universities, but that’s a conversation for another day. For now, I’ll share some information about our admissions process and what options exist if you or your family member did not receive an offer of admission.
Here are some numbers: We received about the same number of applications as last year. Of the 31,000 applications, we have admitted slightly more than 14,000 to yield a freshman class of 7,200. If our projections hold true, about half of the admitted students will choose to go elsewhere. Meanwhile, our student body this fall was 50,955, and next fall it could exceed 52,000. Our largest enrollment was 52,261 in fall 2002. When we exceed 50,000, we aggravate a serious shortage of undergraduate laboratory space for classes our students need to graduate.
What can students do if they didn’t get accepted? For Texas residents who completed their applications on time and met the admissions requirements, we offer a place in the Coordinated Admission Program (CAP). In this program, students must complete 30 hours of college with a grade point average of 3.2 at one of the eight other UT System campuses. They can then transfer to UT for their sophomore year—without having to apply for transfer admission. Thousands of students have enrolled in the CAP program and successfully earned degrees from UT Austin. While the program offers a different freshman experience, it is a path to automatic admission to UT. Most highly selective universities offer no second chances.
Welcome to our new students. We look forward to seeing you on the campus next fall.
I welcomed about 650 prospective students and their parents to the campus this week. These were outstanding students who have already received acceptance offers from UT, but most have not yet committed to enrolling here.
Within this group were many students at the top of their class and individuals who scored 1400 or better (math and verbal) on their SAT. It may surprise you to know that more than half of the students with SAT scores in excess of 1400 accepted by UT choose to attend a different university. Indeed, in 2008 the majority of students offered one of UT’s most generous scholarships declined to accept. We believe a large number of them receive better scholarship offers—not just from Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton, but also from schools that lack the vast array of opportunities of a world-class research university such as UT.
Many of these young people would love to come to Austin, but the decision hinges on scholarship support. In many cases, Texas loses these outstanding students and future leaders to other states.
The Texas Exes is leading an effort to establish full-ride scholarships to address this problem. Modeled after the Jefferson Scholars program at the University of Virginia and a similar program at the University of North Carolina, the new 40 Acres Scholars Program will fund tuition, housing, books—as well as summer activities in public service, internships, and study abroad. The Texas Exes, our alumni association, is working to raise $150 million for an endowment for this merit-based program to keep some of the best Texas students in Texas.
To learn more, visit the 40 Acres Scholars program website.
Earlier this week, I had the chance to speak to the Faculty Council, where I gave an update on our budget situation. As I mentioned previously in Tower Talk, all state agencies have been asked to prepare a prioritized plan to reduce state general revenue expenditures by 5%. For UT Austin, that means a reduction of $29 million in state funding. Fortunately, last summer we reorganized our Information Technology Services division, resulting in improved services and a savings of more than $5 million. I’ve also arranged for a transfer of $5 million from cash reserves in the trademark licensing and sponsorships account by Intercollegiate Athletics. We will make up the difference with reductions in new hiring, deferring some capital expenditures, and significant budget cuts in the administrative portfolios. To a much lesser extent, we are asking for reductions in the colleges and academic departments.
Combined with declines in income from the Available University Fund and other endowments, this reduction in state funding will have a considerable impact on our budget.
I’ll keep you posted on these developments.
I have heard from a number of people about the actions of the Texas Union Board and planned changes for the Cactus Cafe.
I continue to support the students and faculty members of the Texas Union Board as they plan a new chapter for the Cactus Cafe. The Board members are working to make the Cactus Cafe meet the needs of today’s students, while listening to the concerns of the community.
Members of the Board have met with representatives of “Save the Cactus Cafe,” student organizations, and other groups to help establish new and more diverse programming. I applaud the Board for its efforts to make sure the Texas Union serves our students and the University community.
I sent this message to members of the campus community yesterday:
I want to share with you my recommendation to the UT System and the Board of Regents regarding tuition policy for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years. The Tuition Policy Advisory Committee recommended an average increase for resident undergraduate and graduate tuition of 3.95%, which has been widely reported and discussed in forums on the campus. My recommendation to the System follows the TPAC proposal to implement a 3.95% tuition increase and the $65 per semester fee approved by student referendum in 2006 to fund the new Student Activity Center. The TPAC report also includes non-resident undergraduate, graduate, and professional program tuition rates, far more details than I can share in this message.
The economy is challenging all of us–students, parents, alumni, donors, and institutions. No one welcomes a tuition increase in this environment. I understand that some families are struggling to keep up, and even a 3.95% tuition increase seems like too much. For these families, I remind them to explore the many financial aid options on our campus. In addition, 20% of the resident undergraduate tuition increase will be devoted to resident undergraduate financial aid, and 15% of the resident graduate and professional student tuition increase will be used for resident financial aid.
We raise tuition reluctantly and out of necessity. UT is not alone in this situation. The media have reported plans for tuition increases in many states, including a 7.5% increase at the University of Minnesota, at least a 9% increase at the University of Illinois, and a 32% increase at the University of California System.
UT remains a good value. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine recently ranked UT 25th among the 100 best values in public universities. The magazine evaluated more than 500 public colleges and universities. Nevertheless, we know that the cost of an education is a burden for many students and their families, and we are doing everything we can to control our costs, increase our efficiency, and keep the University affordable.