A new admissions index that would academically rank incoming freshmen in 1990 was approved Monday by the U. Institutional Council, despite objections of U. students, who fear it is coming too soon for current high school students to do well.
"If you do adopt this, it will be a travesty and will leave out people who would contribute to this university," student body officer Kent Hyde said, urging the defeat of the index.President Chase N. Peterson said the index, which will ensure incoming freshmen are better prepared to compete academically at the university level, may actually bring in more, not fewer, students when expectations are raised and students meet the challenge. "I don't see it as a number-limiting phenomenon," he said.
Council Chairman Robert Wright pointed out that although the index will be new, it really won't be much of a change. Students admitted at the bottom of the freshman class last fall would still have been eligible for entrance if the index had been in place, he said.
In a 9-1 vote, the council, the U.'s governing body, agreed to use an index in 1990 admissions, if the Utah State Board of Regents gives its approval. The lone dissenting vote was Michael Kaly, the U. student body president and the only student who sits on the Institutional Council.
Kaly tried a substitute motion that would have pushed back use of the index until 1993 unless an economic crisis developed or tax rollbacks materialized that required the university to limit students before that date. His motion died for lack of a second.
The proposal will be forwarded to the regents in the next few months. After the vote, the students vowed to lobby the regents in an effort to defeat the index at that level.
The index would be a composite of the student's high school grade point average and ACT (or SAT) college entrance scores. U. administrators said it would be used to determine a student's readiness for the university.
If the student's index score was below the minimum, which would be adjusted annually, then the student would be denied entrance. If denied entrance, a student could attend a community college and then transfer to the U. if he completed a minimum of 36 hours with a 2.2 GPA. Or he could enroll as a non-matriculated student in evening courses only, through the Division of Continuing Education, where he would be required to successfully take 18 hours of classes before he could reapply for admittance.
It would also be possible for a student to enter summer school on probation. And up to 5 percent of the freshman class could be exempted from the minimum index requirement. Stayner Landward, U. director of admissions, said this would allow the U. to accept talented, culturally disadvantaged and ethnic minority students whose academic records didn't meet the standards.
U. Provost James Clayton said the index is part of a two-step plan to increase the likelihood that freshmen can successfully complete their course work. The first phase came last fall when the U.'s new entrance requirements went into effect. He said that change dropped the percentage of freshmen on probation - with GPAs below 2.0 or "C" - from one-third of the freshmen to one-quarter.
The index would complement the entrance requirements, moving toward a student body more likely to succeed at the university, Clayton said.
Peterson stressed that the index isn't elitist or exclusionary. If a student did well at a community college, he could transfer to the U. The president pointed out that many of the U.'s best students are "late bloomers" who transferred from community colleges or entered the U. after the Army.
Student body officer Brian Robertson reported on student surveys saying that U. and high school students were unaware of the proposed index. He also worried that high school students taking tougher Advanced Placement classes might be hurt in the ranking.
Clayton reported that the index has been several years in the making and was passed a year ago.