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Admissions and Financial Aid

August 7, 2001

Scheduled for discussion at Council on September 12, 2001

I. Executive Summary

The University Council Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid (heretofore referred to as CAFA) was given three charges:

Charge 1: Examine financial aid packages and their effectiveness as a recruiting tool, and (consulting with the Committee on Pluralism as necessary) their role in the recruitment and retention of minorities.

Charge 2: Explore the possibility of extending need-blind admissions to applicants who do not come from North America. Follow the progress of the undergraduate financial aid endowment in order to maintain need-blind admissions.

Charge 3: Work with the Committee on Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics in their review of the status of student-athlete admissions.

At the meeting of the University Council committee chairs we were given an additional charge:

Charge 4: Evaluate the University’s Admissions Web site (www.upenn.edu/admissions/undergrad/).

The committee passed the following motions, which will be elaborated upon below:

Motion 1: The Provost should appoint an ad-hoc committee to evaluate the resources, faculty availability, performance and effectiveness of the pre-freshman program, advising, and tutorial services. The evaluation should be done with a focus on students who are specially admitted. The need to expand these programs and the resources that this might require should also be considered.

Motion 2: The Administration should make available data on admissions to CAFA with the support of the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis. The database should be updated yearly with information on GPA, graduation status, admissions information from a student’s application (e.g., PI, SAT scores, and RIC), financial status, demographics, and indicators for specially admitted students. CAFA should not present these data without the consent of the Administration.

Motion 3: The Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid (CAFA) calls on the University to declare its commitment to the goal of admitting qualified students from around the world on a need-blind basis (Global Need-Blind Admissions, or GNBA) and to move toward attainment of this goal with deliberate speed, recognizing the significant financial and other resource implications of implementing a GNBA policy. Further, CAFA calls on the University to demonstrate its commitment to making measurable progress toward this goal by recruiting, admitting, and providing financial aid to support an additional 12 (twelve) students in the 2002 Admissions cycle (Class of 2006). These students, an incremental addition to what would otherwise be the size of the Class of 2006, shall be recruited from countries other than the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Priority should be given to applicants from regions that are currently the most underrepresented in the Penn undergraduate student body: Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. CAFA should follow the University’s progress toward GNBA and make periodic recommendations regarding further increases in the number of aided international students. Finally, efforts to target endowment for aided foreign students should be maintained and enhanced.

Committee Membership: Abba Krieger (chair), Evis Cama, Terry Conn, Sue Kauffman DePuyt, Dennis DeTurck, David Freiman, Robert Giegengack, Cindy Gold (spring semester only), Paul Gulesserian, Daniel Hammer, Julia Kim (fall semester only), Carol Ladden, Lucia Leone (fall semester only) Kathleen McCauley, Kristen Miller, Sharon Pepe, Arnold Rosoff, William Schilling, Patti Scullin, Warren Seider, Willis Stetson, Diana Swartz. John Vohs, Terri White and guest Bernard Lentz.

II. Background

The three charges are aimed at sub-populations with the goal of achieving diversity:

Charge 1–minorities;

Charge 2–foreign students (non-North Americans);

Charge 3–athletes.

Penn does not merely accept the strongest students academically. Geographic diversity and other considerations are taken into account. This is, of course, the admissions policy at all elite universities. Diversity requires balancing the strength of individual applicants with the overall strength of the "community" of students in each class. Penn has currently reached an "equilibrium" in making such decisions that is implicitly accepted. In its deliberations the committee felt that tampering with the process would not be in the best interest of the Penn community as a whole, but rather would serve, in a counterproductive way, individual interests of isolated subgroups. The committee’s decisions and discussions were cast with this tenet in mind.

Throughout our deliberations we were faced with constraints, the most salient of which were the assumptions that the size of the student body is fixed, and the resources for financial aid will not change dramatically, at least in the short run. For example, committee members were favorably disposed to increasing the number of aided foreign students, particularly since the pool of such students is excellent. But, if we increase the number of aided foreign students, then that would require a reduction in the number of other students. Also, if we increase the amount expended on aid to foreign students, then the amount available for North American students would have to be reduced commensurately.

It is important to note that Penn is a popular school.This is reflected in an increase in the number of applicants (there has been an increase of about 50% over the decade of the 1990s), and the quality of these applications. Since the student body at Penn has become academically stronger, this makes it even more difficult for some students to thrive without strong academic support.

It is also interesting to note that the three charges, noted above, proved to be very topical. In our consideration of the first charge, the issue arose as to whether SAT scores are a good measure of performance for these students. Genaro Padilla, vice chancellor for undergraduate affairs at Berkeley, received a fair amount of press when he announced that Berkeley is considering doing away with SAT scores as a requirement for admission (Brand, William, The Oakland Tribune, June 19, 2001). Yale’s decision to extend need-blind admissions to foreign students received favorable press in the New York Times (Arenson, Karen, November 15, 2000). The book, A Game of Life (Shulman and Bowen, 2001), focuses directly on the advantages and disadvantages of intercollegiate sports in elite institutions, and the diversity that student-athletes bring to these universities.

III. Process

The committee relied heavily on the expertise of the dean of admissions, Willis Stetson, the director of financial aid, William Schilling, and the head of the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis, Bernard Lentz. The committee is indebted to them. We would not have been able to function without their assistance. The committee also owes a debt of gratitude to Kim Hoover, who provided wonderful administrative support.

It would have been unwieldy to tackle all of these issues in full committee meetings. Subcommittees were formed. The first subcommittee that focused on charge 1 was co-chaired by Robert Giegengack and Terry White. Arnold Rosoff chaired the subcommittee on foreign students. Warren Seider, who was a member both of CAFA and the Committee on Athletics and Recreation, chaired the third subcommittee. It was through these subcommittees that ideas and recommendations were formed and filtered up to the whole committee.

IV. Discussion of Charge 1

In order to place this charge in a framework, the "admissions" process broadly defined, can be divided into four phases:

1. application pool;

2. admitted students from the application pool;

3. matriculated students from those students who were admitted;

4. retention of students who matriculated.

The charge of looking at the relationship between financial aid and minority students falls into the third phase–increase the yield (i.e., the number of students who matriculate from those who are accepted).

There were limited data available. Interestingly the one-year snapshot that we looked at showed that yield for minorities was lower than the yield for non-minorities. But this outcome is easily misinterpreted. What is happening is that our competition for minority students tends to be stronger than our competition for non-minority students. Interestingly, however, our yield for minorities is higher than our yield for non-minorities, once an adjustment is made for the competing institution. For example, of the minority students that Penn admitted, a greater fraction were accepted by Harvard, Yale and Princeton as well, as compared to the corresponding number in the non-minority pool. But Penn did better, in head-to-head competition with Harvard, Yale and Princeton for minority students, than it did for non-minority students.

The committee then refocused its charge to phase 1, namely considering whether the pool of minorities from which we select could be increased. We heard about programs that identify minority students who score relatively high on the SATs. Much effort is expended to encourage these students to apply to Penn. Therefore, if the minority pool is to be dramatically increased, this would entail targeting minority students whose applications are weaker as measured by conventional means (SAT scores). The committee felt uncomfortable in engaging in an experiment to admit such students. We felt that it might be unfair to the student, as he or she might find it difficult to be academically successful at Penn. This concern was heightened by the realization that academic support in terms of pre-freshman programs, tutoring, and advising was being stretched to its limit and would not be able to deal with the potential increase in need. This discussion results in motion 1 above.

The retention of minority students (i.e., phase 4) is probably the most important. The Committee on Pluralism dealt with this issue.

V. Discussion of Charge 2

We talked with Elisabeth O’Connell and others from the admissions office who are responsible for admissions of foreign students, Joanne Hanna and others from the development office and individuals in the office of international programs. We also had a lengthy discussion with Professor Jamshed Ghandhi, who is in charge of the Huntsman Program. A more detailed report of our findings appears as Appendix A.

We have a reasonable presence of foreign students on Penn’s campus. But these students tend to be disproportionately from the Far East and other areas where there are people of means. We admit approximately 40 students with financial aid. This is a small fraction of the close to 500 foreign students that Penn admits. Only about half of the aided foreign students who are admitted matriculate.

The committee realizes that it would be impossible at the present time to adopt a need-blind policy for foreign students. However, we also appreciate the benefits of increasing the presence of foreign students, particularly from areas of the world in which there is an under-representation. Most notably, Eastern Europe has a very talented pool of potential students who would not be able to afford private college education in the States. It would be costly to replace financially aided foreign students with foreign students who do not need financial aid. That led to the recommendation of the committee listed as motion 3 above. The feeling is that this would increase the number of students modestly; in steady state, once implemented over the next four yours, this would result in an increase of 40-50 students.

VI. Discussion of Charge 3

In order to respond to Charge 3, a joint subcommittee of members of CAFA and the Athletic and Recreations Committee was established. Warren Seider agreed to chair this subcommittee. This effort is a continuation of last year’s effort (see Almanac, September 12, 2000).

Interestingly, as in Charge 1, there was focus on advising and tutoring that was available principally to athletes who were specially admitted.

The committee focused on gathering information, so that next year’s committee could make more informed policy decisions. The details of their findings appear as Appendix B.

VII. Other Considerations

Deputy Provost Peter Conn supported our efforts by making data on admissions and financial aid available to the committee. We share the concern of the administration that these data are potentially sensitive. Appropriately there was an agreement that these data could be used by our committee, principally the chair, so that we could be better informed. We also appreciate the sensitive nature of the data, and as a result, the need to keep this information confidential.

Also, Bernard Lentz, the Director of the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis attended the meetings of our committee. Hence, the capability of answering questions using objective data is present. But it takes a fair amount of time to assemble the appropriate data that would shed light on the charges presented to CAFA.

The second motion was made and passed unanimously to assure that the committee is not delayed while the appropriate data are compiled. This would enable the committee to work in a more timely fashion.

We also visited the Web site. This Web site was recently updated and improved. Thanks to this effort, we all agreed that the Penn’s admission Web site is among the best that we have reviewed.

The Penn Summer Waiver Program was initiated in the Summer of 2000. This ensures that students who are on financial aid are not disadvantaged in terms of the opportunities that are available to other students. Specifically, Penn waives the required summer contribution for students who are engaged in a qualified program, for example, work for a non-profit organization. This program is under the direction of William Schilling. Our committee reviewed the way in which the program worked last summer and endorsed minor modifications that were made by Mr. Schilling.

Appendix A

Report of the Subcommittee on Financial Aid

for non-North-American (NNA) Students

of the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid

I. The Importance of International Student Financial Aid to Penn’s Standing as a Global University

The University of Pennsylvania proudly proclaims itself a global institution of higher learning, and it largely lives up to this claim. However, a significant limitation to Penn’s being fully "global" lies in the fact the University still considers an international applicant’s need for Student Financial Aid (SFA) in making the admissions decision. This is in contrast to the "need-blind" admissions policy Penn follows for applicants from "North America"–defined as the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Under "need-blind" admissions, we accept applicants based on their substantive qualifications (including a range of criteria, not just raw academic merit); and we make an implicit commitment that once we admit an applicant we will provide an SFA "package" adequate to enable him or her to come to Penn.

In the case of "non-North American" (NNA) applicants, however, Penn will not admit them unless it appears reasonably certain that they have, or can obtain, the financial resources to come. The University rejects a policy of "admit/deny"–in other words, where we admit the student but deny SFA. For the most part, this seems a sound strategy. Why admit a student and set in motion a process that may ultimately be frustrating because the student will not be able to come. However, as addressed below, there may be some instances where giving a qualified applicant a letter of acceptance might enable him or her to secure funding elsewhere.

The University of Pennsylvania has a substantial and rich body of highly qualified international students from around the world; but because of our SFA limitations, the composition of that body is skewed. It comes principally from Canada and Mexico and the higher economic tiers of NNA nations and largely excludes students from the poorest nations–especially those in Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean.

There are numerous exceptionally well-qualified and highly desirable NNA applicants to whom we don’t offer admission because they cannot reasonably be expected to come without SFA and we can’t afford to provide it. In the year 2000 admissions cycle, for example, the Admissions Office reports that there were 2,429 international applicants, of whom over 1,000 were NNA applicants. However, there were only enough SFA resources to support some 40 of these applicants.1 Penn admitted 443 international students, both aided and non-aided; of these, 240 matriculated. SFA packages were offered to 40 students with documented need; of these, 20 matriculated.

As a further illustration, Professor Jamshed Ghandhi, Director of the Huntsman International Studies and Business (ISB) Program, visited with the committee and told of brilliant, talented NNA students who would have greatly enhanced the Penn student body but who were not offered admission because of their financial need status. On occasion, Professor Ghandhi has been able to secure special external funding for particular students. The committee heard other accounts of such ad hoc approaches to SFA for NNA students. On a regular and predictable basis, however, the funds are simply not available to support matriculation of these students, despite their clear merit and the substantial contribution they would make to Penn’s international diversity.

Within the past academic year, some of our more prominent peer competitors–notably Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and MIT–have moved to a "global need-blind" admissions (GNBA) policy, gaining much positive media attention thereby. These institutions can afford to do this because their SFA funds, especially endowment funds, are substantial, dwarfing ours. Because of the commendable efforts of our Admissions Office and the inherent attractions of a Penn education, the University is doing well in terms of attracting the best NNA international students. However, while at present we may not lag too visibly behind the above-named peer institutions, as American higher education continues its shift toward a global enterprise, Penn will not long be able to claim first-tier status unless it can achieve and maintain parity with the front-runners in terms of SFA.

The Committee feels strongly that the University needs to formulate and implement a strategy that will assure our competitive status in the future with regard to attracting and supporting the very best international students from around the globe without regard to their financial ability. Only by ultimately treating applicants from all around the world on an equal basis, will Penn be able to truly become a global university. Toward this end, the Committee recommends the following action steps, which are discussed and supported more fully in the Analysis section follows.

II. Action Steps Summarized

The Committee urges the University to move as rapidly as it can toward a global need-blind admissions (GNBA) policy, but it also recognizes the substantial difficulties of moving fully to GNBA in the near term. The financial and other costs, impossible to assess confidently for a number of reasons, will undoubtedly be very substantial. Consequently, the Committee recommends a 4-step approach toward the ultimate goal. The University should:

1.Declare its goal of moving to a policy of Global Need-Blind Admissions (GNBA) as expeditiously as possible given financial and other resource constraints.

2.Begin immediately to focus attention and efforts on the fund-raising activities necessary to fund attainment of this goal.

3.Demonstrate commitment to the GNBA goal and to making progress toward its attainment by currently increasing the recruitment and support of needy NNA students. The Committee recommends increasing by 12 the number of NNA students enrolled in the class entering in 2002 and continuing this level of increase through 2005–a total of 48 new NNA students overall over the next four years.

a. The number 12 is an approximate number which seems "about right" to the Committee but is subject to modification in the first and succeeding years based on the size and quality of the applicant pool and the financial and other resource constraints faced by the University.

b. The Committee assumes that in the first year, the NNA students enrolled hereunder will be additional students, increasing class size beyond what it would otherwise be. Whether this should be the case in subsequent years is an important policy question that the University should address, in consultation with CAFA.

c. The Committee recommends that the additional students admitted under this proposal be drawn primarily from the three regions most underrepresented in Penn’s student body: Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean nations.

4.Pledge to review progress toward the GNBA goal annually and, in support of such review, to develop measures of the financial and other resource implications of increasing recruitment and support of NNA students.

III. Supporting Analysis

A. Admissions Office Operations

Early in its inquiry, the subcommittee looked into how the Admissions Office handles NNA applicants of questionable financial ability. Our thought was that perhaps there were ways the admissions process could be more effective in finding support for these students, or enabling them to find support for themselves.

Specifically, we heard from some people that NNA applicants of limited means were hurt by the University’s "no admit/deny" policy because it precluded an opportunity for enterprising students to take their letter of admission from Penn and "shop it around" to try to find funding from government agencies, foundations, corporations, and relatives. Upon looking into this point, the committee found that the issue is more complex than it seems at first. For one thing, the admissions timetable is a major constraint. Once the admissions decision is made, there is not enough time to allow an admitted NNA student to secure funding within the time period the student has to commit to coming to Penn. Further, the admissions cycle can’t be easily modified to provide more flexibility at either end–i.e., either announcing admissions decisions by an earlier date for needy NNA applicants or allowing these students a longer time after being accepted before they must commit to Penn. The admissions timetable is not set solely by this university; rather, it is constrained by agreements with other Ivy League institutions. While the Committee would encourage the University to look for ways to increase flexibility to address the above problem, it recognizes that this does not offer a current solution.

Skipping the further details of our analysis, the Committee concluded that the Admissions Office is doing an excellent job, working within its resource constraints, to maximize the number of qualified international students we bring to Penn. Admissions is on the alert, we were told, to identify funding sources in foreign nations that might help to fund applicants from those nations. When a promising but needy applicant is identified, Admissions tries to help him or her tap into any known funding sources. The committee is satisfied that this part of the process is being handled adequately and has no input in this regard, other than to acknowledge the good work of those in Admissions, led by Elisabeth O’Connell, who deal with international student recruitment and admissions. Acknowledgement is also due the staff of the Office of International Programs (OIP), who work closely with students after they are admitted to assist them in obtaining visas and taking care of other details necessary to get them to campus and help assure their successful integration into the Penn community.

Other than encouraging Admissions and OIP to continue doing what they have been and to be alert for ways to refine the process, the Committee has no recommendations in this area.

B. Additional Funding for International Students

After concluding that the recruitment and admissions processes are being handled well, the committee further concluded that the obvious solution is, indeed, the correct one: increasing the access of needy NNA applicants to a Penn education is best addressed by coming up with more funds to support them.

Reallocating Current Funds: One possibility, of course, is to reallocate currently available SFA funds from other uses to the support of needy NNA students. The Office of Student Financial Services has some discretion to make such internal allocation decisions and has used that power to make modest increments in SFA support for NNA students over the past year. The Committee recognizes the strong support of Bill Schilling and the Office of Student Financial Aid in maximizing the resources available for the support of NNA students. Without some specific University policy direction in this regard, however, it is unrealistic to expect much more help from this quarter.

Another obvious possibility is to reallocate other University funds to NNA-SFA needs. This would require a University-level policy decision; and the Committee will later herein recommend adopting such a policy. It is recognized, however, that the University has countless important and pressing needs and that, at any given point in time, budget allocation is a zero-sum game. As important as the Committee believes the subject of its charge to be, it recognizes that financial aid for international students must be seen in the larger perspective of the University’s priorities.

Seeking new funding: The obvious answer–obvious in terms of its desirability but not necessarily in terms of feasibility–is to find new sources of funding for SFA. The Committee is aware of the University’s ongoing fund-raising initiatives to support student financial aid. The Development Office (through Joanne Hanna, who visited with the Committee) reports that approximately $131 million has been pledged already in the University’s $200 million campaign to increase funds for student financial aid. The campaign seeks to obtain as much of this as possible in endowment funds. The Development Office is receptive to the idea of a targeted sub-initiative–i.e., a program within the above campaign–focused on building financial support for needy NNA students.

The Committee believes such an effort should be undertaken, with emphasis on seeking funds that would not likely be available to the University for other purposes. To some extent, any new fund-raising initiative risks intruding upon other development activities. However, it may be possible to identify individual or corporate donors, or funding agencies, both governmental and private, that might be interested only NNA students who are in need of financial aid. These would be the ideal sources of support to be tapped through the initiative we are proposing.

Area-specific support: Within this group of potential funding sources, many may be interested in supporting students only from their particular geographic region. The Committee was told, for example, of a Chinese family living in Hawaii that is very generous but is interested only in supporting Penn students from Mainland China. Presumably, most foreign sources of support would tend to fall in this category.

Non-area-specific support: Less restricted funds are clearly preferable to those more restricted. Thus, the ideal is find donors willing to support NNA-SFA without geographic limitation. The Committee suggests that a fund-raising program be crafted which recognizes the donors’ tendency to impose geographic limitations but states clearly the University’s goal of developing a global SFA fund free of such restrictions. Perhaps a donor (individual or organization) could be persuaded that for every X number of geographically restricted SFA packages it contributes it should also contribute one unrestricted package.

IV. Proposed Action Plan

A. Long-term strategy

The University should formally recognize the desirability and importance of ultimately moving to a Global Need-Blind Admissions policy and commit to this as a goal. However, it is premature to make a firm commitment at this time to achieving GNBA by a date certain. We need a thorough inquiry into the likely costs of moving to GNBA–not just direct monetary costs, but all resource implications. For example, if class size is held constant, admitting more aided NNA students will diminish the number of NA students and unaided non-NNA students. This may have different implications for different schools and different programs within the University; so, on several levels, this is a complex and potentially sensitive policy question. The Committee recommends that CAFA (the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid) continue next year, and in succeeding years, to focus attention on this issue and to call for, gather, and analyze relevant information as it becomes available.

B. Short-term strategy

To assure that the University begins moving immediately toward the above-stated goal, intermediate targets should be set. While modest in terms of numbers of NNA students aided, these targets would be a visible and important signal of the University’s commitment to GNBA. This commitment would help to energize the fund-raising efforts discussed above.

The Committee does not know what numbers of NNA students should ultimately be recruited and supported. It is satisfied, however, that increasing the number by approximately 12 students in the next admissions cycle is a reasonable objective. Thus, the Committee makes the following recommendation.

For next year, an additional 12 NNA students with financial need should be recruited and supported with SFA. By "additional," we mean an increase of 12 in the overall size of the entering class. From discussions with the Admissions Office and others, the Committee believes an additional 12 students can be absorbed into the University community without causing significant resource problems, financial or otherwise. More money for SFA will be needed, of course; and the Committee requests that additional University funds be given to the office of Student Financial Services to support these additional students. To meet diversity goals, the Committee further recommends that the additional students be sought primarily from the three regions of the world that are currently most under-represented in the Penn community: Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean.

In following years, the Committee believes that the number of aided NNA students should be further increased; but the increments for those years cannot be specified now. The Committee recommends that CAFA be charged in successive years to monitor progress toward the overall goal of GNBA and make follow-on recommendations, as appropriate.

V. Summary and Conclusion

The University should adopt a long-term policy goal of Global Need-Blind Admissions (GNBA). This goal should be factored into the Development Office’s strategic plans for fund-raising, and a specific program should be established to build financial support for Non-North-American (NNA) students with financial need. In the short term, the University should seek to recruit an additional 12 exceptionally qualified NNA students with financial need for admission to the Class of 2006, with emphasis on students from Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. In subsequent years, the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid should continue to monitor progress toward the above goal and to gather information and make recommendations toward attainment of that goal.

Arnold J. Rosoff (chair); Evis Cama; David Freiman; Paul Gulesserian; Eric Kaplan (guest); Julia Kim (fall semester only); Abba Krieger; Bernard Lentz; Kathleen McCauley; William Schilling; Willis Stetson

Appendix B

Report of the Subcommittee on Student-Athlete Admissions

of the Committees on Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics

and Admissions and Financial Aid

Last year, the Subcommittee on Student-Athlete Admissions of the CRIA and CAFA examined the admissions process for student-athletes and prepared a report, which appeared in the Almanac (April 15, 2000). This report discusses the Academic Index (AI) computed for each perspective athlete, and the interplay between the Athletics Department (Assistant Director, Rosemarie Burnett, and the coaches) and the Admissions Office, as the latter considers student-athletes for admissions to Penn. Due to a winnowing of disinterested applicants throughout the process, about 70% of student-athletes admitted usually matriculate, yielding about 270 student-athletes in the freshman class (about 11.5% of 2,350 freshmen).

Early this academic year, the subcommittee was presented with graduation-rate data by Barney Lentz (Director of the Institute for Research and Analysis in the Provost’s Office). Graduation rates were presented for Penn classes that entered in the six-year period between 1987 and 1992. The data show the percentage of students that graduated within 4, 5, 6, and 7 years. Furthermore, in several categories, the number of students having predictive indexes (PIs) is identified: (1) at or above the mean PI, (2) one standard deviation below the mean PI, and (2) two standard deviations below the mean PI. These data are presented for all students, male students, female students, all athletes, male athletes, and female athletes.

Differences in the retention and performance of student-athletes were discernable, but a closer look at the data was necessary before reaching any conclusions and recommendations. Consequently, a few members of our subcommittee examined the data more carefully, and learned about several programs that provide assistance to student-athletes, prior to matriculating at Penn and during their undergraduate years. Then, after preparing a comprehensive report, containing many observations and suggestions for improvements, they met with the entire subcommittee near the end of the spring semester. Since insufficient time was available to meet also with the Director of Athletics, Steve Bilsky, and the Dean of Admissions, Lee Stetson, as well as the two committees, CRIA and CAFA, the subcommittee decided to provide this summary of its findings with a few recommendations. Over the summer and during the fall, the details will be examined more closely with these parties.

Graduation Rates and Performance of Student-Athletes

On the basis of the most recent data studied, for students entering in 1991-1993 and graduating within six years (by 1999), when student-athletes who are "special admits" are excluded, no substantive differences between athletes and non-athletes are observed with regard to: (1) predictive indices (PIs), (2) graduation rates, and (3) grade-point averages (GPAs). However, the small fraction of male student-athletes who are so-called "special admits" (hereafter referred to as male special-admit athletes) have lower predictive indices (PIs), lower graduation rates and take longer to graduate, and lower grade-point averages (GPAs). This observation is presented with two important qualifications. First, while data are not available, selection criteria for student-athletes have been upgraded and there is considerable reason to expect that smaller differences exist in more recent entering classes. Second, the GPA may not be a sufficiently comprehensive indicator of student performance. In this regard, often students with lower grades play a leading role in solving problems in their fields, in business, in politics, and in other endeavors. A related observation is that, while female special-admit athletes have lower PIs, their graduation rates are slightly higher than for the entire female population.

Clearly, it is important to assess the performance of student-athletes at Penn in comparison with those at other four-year institutions. Unfortunately, the NCAA graduation-rate data applies only for students on athletic scholarships, thereby excluding all of the Ivy League schools, who provide substantial financial assistance for many athletes (in need-blind admissions), but not "athletic scholarships." However, for the special-admit athletes, data from the admissions office shows that Penn matriculates a relatively small fraction in comparison with the other Ivy League schools. Here, it is necessary to examine closely the definition of a special-admit athlete.

Assistance for Student-Athletes

Penn provides considerable opportunity for support of all students, especially special admits. For the student-athletes, Rosemarie Burnett is the Academic Coordinator for the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Having served in this role for two years, she makes herself available to approximately 1000 student-athletes, working with persons responsible for student services in the four undergraduate schools. In addition to Rosemarie, student-athletes receive considerable assistance from the Department of Academic Support Programs (DASP), headed by Terri White. This office provides a Pre-freshman Program (PFP-PENNCAP, a four-week extended orientation program for students during August), Tutoring Services (involving individual tutors provided for many courses), and Learning Resources (instruction in academic reading, writing, and studying), designed for all students, but especially special-admits.

Pre-Freshman Program (PFP)/PENNCAP: Special-admit athletes are referred to PFP to participate in this four-week summer academic enrichment program. During the month of August, 110 students enroll in rigorous courses designed by faculty in each of the four undergraduate schools. They also receive comprehensive individualized counseling and academic support services. Each student is assigned a Peer Counselor and participates in social and cultural enrichment activities.

The principal concerns involving the PFP are: (1) the size of the program, which involves less than half of the special-admit athletes, and (2) the tendency of the athletes not to utilize the counseling services during the four years after their pre-freshman experience. In connection with the former, the availability of faculty instructors is the limiting factor.

Tutoring Services: All Penn students are entitled to utilize tutorial services offered by the DASP Tutoring Office, with PENNCAP students given priority status in the assignment of tutors. Recognizing the unique needs of student-athletes due to their demanding schedules, the Tutoring Services staff has established a program that promotes the successful scholar-athlete by encouraging him/her to serve as a tutor. They have also worked out an arrangement with the Athletic Academic Coordinator to coordinate individual tutorial services through her office. The Athletic Academic Coordinator identifies scholar-athletes, based on her intimate knowledge of all athletes, and hires them to work with student-athletes she believes would benefit from an individual tutor.

Here, the principal issues are: (1) improving coordination between the DRIA and DASP, and (2) arranging for tutors to be available on demand as needed, especially after mid-terms, when student-athletes first realize they need help.

Learning Resources: Learning Resources provides instruction in academic reading, writing and studying. Their services are offered through individual appointments and/or workshops. The Learning Resources staff conduct individual learning assessments and prepare a plan of support for each PENNCAP student during the Pre-Freshman Program. Based on recommendations of the PENNCAP Academic Coordinator, they continue to receive services throughout their undergraduate studies.

Several steps are needed to encourage athletes to participate, including: (1) extended hours beyond 9-5, and (2) a workshop series being designed specifically for athletes.

Recommendations

On the basis of data concerning male special-admit athletes and the assistance provided for student-athletes, the following recommendations are offered:

1. With the number of applications to Penn increasing rapidly (from under 10,000 in 1989 to 19,150 in 2001), the admission rate has declined appreciably. Consequently, it is reasonable for the university community to question whether 11.5% athletes in the student body is too high. In this regard, many student-athletes matriculate with strong academic qualifications (that accompany strong athletic abilities) and, over the course of their undergraduate years, perform at a high level academically. It is recommended that both the advantages and disadvantages of participation in intercollegiate sports and many aspects of the diversity student-athletes bring to universities be examined more closely, with a helpful reference being The Game of Life (Shulman and Bowen, 2001). Note that because the Ivy League schools do not share data on the percentage of student athletes, comparisons cannot be made, excepting informal data shared through contacts.

2. An attempt should be made to measure the performance of student-athletes during the past five years, even though complete retention data are not available. There are reasons to expect that their graduation rates and performance will be improved because selection criteria for admissions of student-athletes have been upgraded.

3. Data should be assembled on the performance of students having comparable predictive indexes. The data should span the full range of predictive indexes, with emphasis on the lower end; that is, the special admits. Data for the student-athletes should be compared with data for non-athletes to determine if there are significant differences.

4. The position of Academic Coordinator in the DRIA is very demanding. Rosemarie Burnett serves in two roles: (1) working with the coaches and the Admissions Office to recruit and admit the best student-athletes, and (2) working with over 1,000 student-athletes to provide the support services many need to be successful. It is recommended that the operation of her office be examined closely, as it is anticipated that her effectiveness can be increased significantly with additional personnel.

Warren D. Seider; Edward T. Lally; Abba Krieger; Steve Galetta; Suzanne Kauffman DePuyt; Terri White; Kristen Miller; Martin Bonilla (guest); Rosemarie Burnett (guest); Barney Lentz (guest) May 3, 2001

 


Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 3, September 11,2001

ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS:

Tuesday,
September 11, 2001
Volume 48 Number 3
www.upenn.edu/almanac/

Dr. Afaf Meleis--a prominent medical sociologist and specialist in women's health issues--will become the Dean of the School of Nursing in January.
Dr. Richard Gelles--a leading researcher in the study of family violence has been named Interim Dean of the School of Social Work.
Lucy Momjian is now Associate Vice President for Finance and Treasury Management.
Jack Shannon is named Associate Vice President in the Office of the Executive Vice President.
Dr. Battistini, director of Penn Health for Women, dies in a motor vehicle accident.
Convocation 2001: President Judith Rodin and Provost Robert Barchi welcome the Class of 2005.
Council Year-end Committee Reports: Admissions and Financial Aid as well as Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics are both on the agenda of this week's Council Meeting.
Penn moves up in the latest U.S. News rankings of the nation's best universities to its highest ever ranking.
A noisy night in the neighborhood prompted a Speaking Out letter and two responses.
Code Red Alert: Preventing a computer worm is possible with these steps.
The Models of Excellence program wants nominations to recognize staff achievements from the previous academic year.