Before we get into the self-serving, sunshine-pumping statements made by LSU President F. King Alexander at the LSU Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday, we should re-trace our steps a little and provide some background.
Last summer, then-Board of Regents chairman Richard Lipsey went on a verbal rampage of sorts in reaction to an idea Alexander floated to move LSU toward something called “holistic admissions.” Essentially what “holistic admissions” means is that LSU would, in apparent contravention of state higher education policy, abandon a rigorous adherence to “hard” qualifications for prospective students and, for example, have a less-stringent requirement for things like ACT scores.
Alexander said this was simply going with the flow, because the Harvards and Yales of the world were doing it and if LSU wanted to keep up with them “holistic admissions” would be necessary. And the current freshman class at LSU was admitted on that basis.
Lipsey was anything but satisfied, and popped off about it at his blog…
In the 1990’s the Louisiana Board of Regents established a system that has been incredibly successful at creating true Flagship status for LSU. All other higher education institutions were placed into one tier of 10 regional schools or another tier of three statewide schools. Each tier has differing ACT score and GPA requirements. The two-year community colleges are open enrollment.
By removing objective standards at LSU, King Alexander opens the door for politics and money to influence admissions decisions. Donors and persons of influence can now bring inappropriate influence to the admissions process. Only the Louisiana Board of Regents is authorized in the Louisiana Constitution to change minimum standards. The standards they adopted in the 1990’s have produced excellent results. King Alexander’s spokesman Jason Droddy says Alexander can now use a loophole to end the minimum ACT requirement without Regents approval. Several, if not all Board of Regents and LSU Board of Supervisors members were not even consulted on the standards reduction. They only learned of the actions in a 9/2/18 article by Editor Mark Ballard of The Advocate Capitol News Bureau. President Alexander is acting like he really thinks he is a “King.” Let him know that LSU and all schools belong to the people.
And last week, when Lipsey called for Alexander’s head he returned to the subject…
The Board of Regents has also approved an audit regarding King Alexander’s unilateral and undisclosed changes to admissions practices at LSU that we exposed in August following media reports. These subjective standards he has unconstitutionally launched lack needed transparency and objective audit points. The recent major national news story involving bribery by some of the most powerful and wealthy at universities across America shows why objective standards are required. It is clearer than ever that that such subjective practices open the door for corruption and undue influence. Children of major donors or with political influence can now be admitted to LSU based on a subjective review of an essay and their “personal qualities” by LSU staff. This subjective review makes it impossible to question admissions decisions that may be completely inappropriate. It opens the door to corruption and undue influence.
So the “holistic admissions” issue is obviously a considerable topic of conversation, and yesterday Alexander told the Board of Supervisors his admissions changes are a grand success…
When Louisiana State University lowered its admission standards before the fall 2018 semester, some accused the school of sacrificing academic rigor for higher enrollment numbers and increased revenue.
But during the Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday, Mar. 20, LSU President F. King Alexander offered new evidence that suggests the lower admissions standards have not impacted academic performance.
“This diverse class of students, they’re succeeding in ways a lot of people said they couldn’t,” Alexander said. “That is truly the effort of the main campus to really show a lot of people this is the way the country is growing.”
Alexander says the class of 2022, now the largest and most diverse in the school’s history, took more classes and made better grades than their upperclassmen peers did during their respective first years, even though the older students were admitted to the university by more rigorous standards.
Perhaps encouraged by those results, the board adopted a change to the LSU Baton Rouge scholarship formula that would make some scholarships more widely available and lucrative. LSU administrators estimate each eligible freshman in 2020 stands to receive around $500 more in scholarships because of the change. The total investment is around $31 million, LSU spokesman, Ernie Ballard, confirmed Wednesday.
Alexander also predicted that the May 2018 graduating class will be the largest in school history.
We might be the first to pose this, but we’re pretty sure we won’t be the last – is the reason LSU’s incoming class, unburdened as it is with hard academic requirements set forth by the Board of Regents, doing so well that the school’s admissions department found hundreds of academic diamonds in the rough, or is LSU losing rigor in its demands for academic performance from students at the same time its admissions are getting easier?
Hopefully it’s not the latter. But it might be a bit more plausible to believe LSU is dumbing down its academic standards in order to process students to graduation – which seems to be the trend across academia – than it is to believe that a freshman class containing a host of kids who caught a break on admissions requirements like ACT scores are kicking more ass and taking more names with larger courseloads than previous cohorts of LSU students who carried stronger academic credentials.
And if Alexander is succeeding in turning LSU into a flagship adult day care center rather than a major university, then Lipsey is 100 percent justified in demanding his ouster.
Just something to think about – especially if as an LSU alumnus you start getting phone calls asking you to contribute to the $1 billion fundraising campaign the school has launched to go with its funding increase courtesy of the tax hikes Alexander spent three years shilling for by pleading poverty at the state legislature.