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Criteria, Decisions and State Law

Use of Race and Ethnicity in Admissions Decisions 

IV.    Past race-neutral admissions criteria

The extensive programs, plans, and incentives used by the HSC to increase the diversity of applicants and entering students in its academic programs are contained in the reports of the HSC to the THECB entitled "Institutional Strategic Enrollment Management Plan, Progress Report (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004)" and in the THECB position paper "Projecting the need for Medical Education in the Texas; addendum; a report on Efforts to Increase the Number of Underrepresented Students enrolled at the States Medical School." (THECB; 2002) Results have, however, fallen far short of expectations and have failed to even approach a critical mass, much less reach it. (Appendix II) In spite of intense analysis and innovation, the use of race-neutral criteria in the selection of students has resulted in the enrollment of only small numbers of ethnic minority students in each entering class. As a result, most small discussion groups or clinical teams have no minority students.

At the direction of the Texas Legislature and with the adoption of the "Closing the Gaps" plan by the THECB, intense efforts were not only undertaken, but new strategies were employed. However, these efforts and strategies were crafted and executed under the standard set forth in Hopwood. Mr. Filo Maldonado, HSC College of Medicine, presented a detailed discussion of the innovative HSC use of non-race base admission criteria and processes in the book, The Right Thing To Do: The Smart Thing To Do: Enhancing Diversity in Health Professions (2001), published by the Institute of Medicine. The book is a record of the Symposium on Diversity in Health Professions. While Mr. Maldonado's article was intended to show methods used to achieve diversity in a race-neutral manner, it and other records and reports of the HSC show clearly that , even with exhaustive and expensive effort, a race-neutral admissions process fails to produce sufficient numbers of minority students. A compendium of HSC efforts to stimulate minority enrollment can be found in the annual reports to THECB, entitled "Institutional Strategic Enrollment Management Plan." Data contained in the HSC document: "HSC Enrollment by Ethnic Status and Gender" provide compelling evidence that non-race-based admissions criteria simply cannot achieve the goals of the Health Science Center. These facts support a finding that the HSC has made a good-faith effort to consider and utilize workable race-neutral alternatives in its quest for diversity.

V.  Plan to utilize race and ethnicity in admissions decisions

The Health Science Center will utilize race-based criteria to the extent minimally necessary to enroll a critical mass of ethnically diverse students in each class. For each college/school within the HSC, an academic threshold for consideration of acceptance is defined. These thresholds for admission are race-neutral and are based on academic achievement and competence as indicated by grade point average (GPA) and scores on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) or Graduate Record Exam (GRE), etc. The purpose of a threshold is to ensure that applicants possess the necessary academic competencies to succeed in the program. An applicant who achieves the academic threshold is considered for admission based on multiple "non-cognitive" factors, which will, in the future, include race and ethnicity. These non-cognitive factors reveal attributes and characteristics which are deemed important in selecting those qualified applicants who can excel in the practice of their health discipline and can best serve the needs of the State.

Admissions committees within the HSC vote to adopt an acceptance score for each individual applicant. [1] However, each applicant is considered on an individual basis and no fixed quantitative score will be attached to race and ethnicity, nor to any other individual non-cognitive factor. Race and ethnicity may be considered a "plus" and evaluated alongside all other factors comprising the pool of characteristics considered in the admissions process. Each individual admissions committee member decides to what extent each applicant displays each attribute and characteristic, and decides on a overall score using their own professional judgment as to the appropriate weight to be assigned to any attribute or characteristic. It is not possible to determine the weight or scores assigned to any single attribute or characteristic comprising the pool of "non-cognitive factors." And, scores assigned by individual admissions committee members may differ. It is the collective academic and professional judgment of the entire committee and the averaged score which determine the final successful applicants, in descending rank order of admission scores.

VI.    Regular review of use of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions

At least weekly during the admissions cycle, A&M System Health Science Center academic components compare the composition of projected entering classes to Health Science Center goals. Admissions committees utilize a pre-admissions cycle meeting to discuss the upcoming admission process. Also, one or more post-admission cycle meetings are held to review the process and the results. At these meetings, changes are considered for the next admissions cycle. At the end of each admissions cycle, HSC Admissions Committees review admissions policies and criteria versus the composition of the student body. When, and if, the ethnic and racial composition of a component approaches critical mass, as defined by goals established by the Health Science Center, review of the use of the race-based criteria will be instituted to determine if its continued use is necessary and justified.

Additionally, as required by state law, the HSC Uniform Recruitment and Retention Steering Committee (URRSC) provides overall review and direction to achieving State and HSC goals in providing educational opportunities for all citizens of Texas and to support the goals of Closing the Gaps. The URRSC will annually review the use of race-based criteria in admissions processes to determine if their continued use is warranted. The HSC conducts an annual strategic planning process with broad faculty input. Review of overall HSC goals is an essential component of the process. Interaction among the admissions committees, curriculum committees, and faculty will determine if the advantages and attributes of a critical mass of ethnically diverse students are being achieved, and if continued use of race-based admissions criteria is necessary.

VII.      Notice requirement per state law

State law requires that the criteria used in admissions decisions be published and made available to the public one year prior to their utilization in admissions decisions. Upon approval by the Board of Regents of the use of race-based criteria in admissions decisions, the HSC will post notification on the HSC website that race and ethnicity have been added to the list of multiple factors which are considered in admissions decisions in HSC programs. The first use of race-based criteria will occur in decisions concerning the admission of students for the classes beginning in Fall 2005.

[1] The College of Medicine and of Dentistry have a single, college-wide admissions committee. The School of Rural Public Health and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences use department-based admissions committee and students are admitted by department.


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