UW chancellor defends use of race as admissions factor
MADISON -- No applicant to the University of Wisconsin-Madison has ever lost a slot to another because of race, Chancellor John Wiley says. If two equally qualified candidates apply, both get in, Wiley told the Legislative Council's Special Commi...
MADISON -- No applicant to the University of Wisconsin-Madison has ever lost a slot to another because of race, Chancellor John Wiley says.
If two equally qualified candidates apply, both get in, Wiley told the Legislative Council's Special Committee on Affirmative Action at a hearing Thursday.
"There has never, ever been a student admitted because of the color of their skin," Wiley said. "It's not the case where some student lost a seat to a lesser-qualified applicant of any race."
Wiley's remarks came as UW System regents consider a new admissions policy that would give greater weight to non-academic factors such as race. UW-Madison officials already use the so-called holistic review.
UW administrators have clashed with the Republican-controlled committee formed to examine affirmative action in Wisconsin.
In December, Ward Connerly, chairman of the California-based American Civil Rights Coalition, which has pushed successful proposals in Michigan, California and Washington banning race and gender in admissions, told the committee that race should have no role in deciding who gets into school.
Wiley defended the practice on Thursday. He said high school grade-point averages, class rankings and ACT scores are deceptive and often don't predict whether a student will succeed in college. Admission officials must consider nonacademic factors as well, including leadership in extracurricular activities, essays, letters of recommendation -- and race.
"Why wouldn't we look at those things?" Wiley asked the committee.
He said UW-Madison should reflect Wisconsin society and contended that minority students enrich the campus by providing different viewpoints.
The school recruits minorities in Milwaukee and on the state's American Indian reservations, he said. When UW officials find a high-achieving minority with good prospects for success at UW-Madison, they encourage him or her to apply, he said.