Committee to review programs

A Yale College subcommittee will meet this summer to review and redefine the size, mission and admissions criteria for the non-degree and degree-granting options of Yale’s Special Student Program after the completion of a preliminary internal review, Yale President Richard Levin announced Monday.

The standing Committee on Yale College Admissions Policy will clarify the “mission, purpose and standards” of both programs, Levin said. In February, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel and University General Counsel Dorothy Robinson began a review of both special student programs following media coverage of former Taliban diplomat Rahmatullah Hashemi, who is currently a member of the non-degree Special Student Program, Levin said.

Levin said the review will seek to align the programs with the standards and purposes of the University.

“As a next step, the dean of Yale College and I, as co-chairs of the standing Committee on Yale College Admissions Policy, will convene a subcommittee to consider the appropriate size of these programs, give their mission and purpose clear articulation, and define admissions criteria consistent with the high standards and moral purposes of a leading institution of higher learning,” he said in a statement.

Levin said in an interview that the number of students admitted to the programs will not necessarily decrease following the evaluation.

“Sometimes, being more clear about your mission and purpose and setting strong aspirations for the quality of the student you want can end up increasing the pool of applicants,” he said.

Brenzel said he participated in the preliminary review in an effort to outline the workings of the two programs for prospective applicants.

“We presented President Levin with the facts as we understood them about the history, operations and processes for both programs, and he reached the conclusions he outlined in his statement,” Brenzel said in an e-mail. “Our review is complete, and further review of these programs and their admissions policies will be undertaken by the appropriate committee.”

Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said he supports Levin’s request for a review of the programs and their admission procedures.

“I was aware of the review being conducted by Dean Brenzel and Ms. Robinson, and I support the president in his call for a further study of these programs and their admissions policies by the standing committee indicated in his statement,” Salovey said in an e-mail.

Levin’s statement expressed concern about the admissions rates of each program. While fewer than 10 percent of applicants to the regular undergraduate program were accepted this year, more than 75 percent of applicants to the non-degree program and almost 30 percent of Eli Whitney Program applicants were recently accepted to the program, Levin said in the statement.

Eli Whitney Students Association President Brooks Prouty ’06 said the announcement struck him for its lack explicit reference to Hashemi, who he thinks was the catalyst for reconsideration of these programs.

“The name not named is definitely the most salient feature of the statement,” Prouty said. “[Hashemi] has definitely brought attention to an area that needed attention.”

Admissions decisions for students to the 2006-’07 non-degree program will be conducted according to the published standard, while Eli Whitney Program applicants will be subject to the same standards applied to candidates for regular admission to Yale College, Levin said in the statement.

The non-degree Special Student program began in 1977 to allow “a small number of individuals, typically local residents not of traditional college age, to take courses without earning credit toward a Yale degree,” Levin said in the statement. The program admits 50 to 60 students each year, who do not live on campus, do not receive financial aid and do not compete for admission with the 1,300 members of the freshman class in Yale College, Levin said.

The degree-granting Special Student Program, renamed the Eli Whitney Students Program two years ago, began in 1982 and also serves students who are not of what Levin called “traditional college age.” The program admits eight to 12 individuals each year, and their housing and financial aid status is the same as that of non-degree students.

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