Gates: Expects Flood of Emails as Mays Fails to Return Calls
Gates said he was prepared for a flood of e-mails on the subject and that he hopes most Aggies see this as the “next logical step” in a new approach to picking the A&M student body.
“My guess is that a lot of former students don’t really appreciate how little impact legacy has had on the process in the real world,” he said. “If the reality is that legacy helped 300 get in, the perception of some Aggies is probably that it’s 3,000.”
He added that A&M officials will continue to encourage students from Aggie families to apply for admission.
Gates said he discussed the legacy decision with the A&M System Board of Regents and members were supportive. Several regents — including Chairman Lowry Mays and Vice Chairman Erle Nye, both A&M graduates — could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon. [John LeBas theeagle.com January 10, 2004]
Official Gates statement of Jan. 9, 2004:
STATEMENT ON LEGACY
Texas A&M University President Robert Gates
On December 3, 2003, when I announced the comprehensive plan to recruit and enroll more minorities at Texas A&M University, I stated that all students would be admitted based on individual merit and potential contribution to the University community. Further, I stated at that time and in subsequent meetings with legislators and internal and external groups that all admissions factors—including legacy—were under review to ensure that we have a fair and equitable process. This was due in part to our understanding that there was an inconsistency in the continued use of legacy in a merit-based process.
We believe, as virtually every university in the country does, that students whose family members have attended its university add value to what makes those institutions unique. This is especially true at Texas A&M. At the same time, the solidity of the Aggie family and the strength of the Aggie culture are not the result of four out of 100 points on an admissions evaluation. For the three-fourths of our freshmen who were enrolled in the fall of 2003 under the top ten percent law and automatic academic admission, legacy was irrelevant. Indeed, not one student of the more than 10,000 who were admitted was admitted solely on the basis of legacy. In fact, legacy has been a formal part of A&M’s admissions process only since 1989 and has played far less of a role in admissions than either Aggies or others probably believe.
In an admissions process based on individual merit and potential contribution to the university community, prior affiliation with Texas A&M should not be a criterion. We intend to continue to urge students from Aggie families to apply to A&M and, if accepted, to enroll here. But, after consultation with each of the Texas A&M University System Regents, I have decided that, effective immediately, Texas A&M will no longer award points for legacy in the admissions review process.
I had intended that legacy be addressed in an ongoing review of our admissions procedures. However, public perceptions of the fairness and equity of our process clearly are important and require prompt action to deal with an obvious inconsistency in an admissions strategy based on individual merit.
Indeed, in retrospect, this decision regarding legacy should have been part of my December 3rd announcement and because it was not, Texas A&M has suffered unfortunate negative publicity. I take full responsibility for that.
Today’s announcement brings greater consistency and equity to our admissions decision making process. We will continue our review.