February 12, 2015 / 10:53 PM / 3 years ago

UT Austin president influenced 'handful' of admissions: report

DALLAS, Texas (Reuters) - University of Texas at Austin president Bill Powers used his influence to admit a “select handful” of applicants who would otherwise have been rejected by the admission’s office, according to an independent report released Thursday.

The report, requested by the UT System Board of Regents, also said Powers misled an earlier investigation by failing to disclose a system of “holds” on applications that were later reviewed by his office at the request of state lawmakers, regents, donors, alumni and other influential people.

From 2009 to 2014, the undergraduate applications of 73 students whose high school grades and test scores were significantly below the median scores of accepted applicants were approved for admission, according to the report.

There was no evidence of admissions resulting from inappropriate promises or exchanges and no laws were broken, the report said.

Powers said in a statement that his office intervening on behalf of a “relatively small” number of applicants did not displace any other students and is a common practice at other universities.

“I inherited this process, which was well known by regents, former chancellors, the Board of Regents Office, and UT System officials, many of whom, as the report notes, asked me to intervene on their behalf,” Powers said. “This process, both prior to and during my presidency, was in the best long-term interest of the university.”

The investigation over the admissions policies caused public tension between the university president and regents. Powers was pressured to resign and will leave office in June.

UT Austin is the flagship university of the UT system.

Reporting by Lisa Maria Garza; editing by Karen Brooks

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