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UVA Tracks Applicants With Wealthy Relatives

April 3, 2017
 
 

For years, the admissions and advancement offices at the University of Virginia have been communicating about applicants with ties to wealthy alumni and donors, The Washington Post found.

Documents obtained by the Post include notes outlining the specific contributions that trace back to prospective students’ families and friends. The documents consist of 164 pages of data and reports since 2008. The so-called UVA watch list sometimes included jotted notes about a major donation (“$500k”) or a recommended decision -- “must be on WL” or “if at all possible A,” referring to “wait list” and “accepted.” The names of the applicants and their relatives were redacted from the documents, and the final admissions decisions were not included.

The 2013 records revealed that one donor was threatening to pull future contributions to the university after an applicant was put on the wait list. “According to people who have talked to him, [the person] is livid about the WL decision and holding future giving in the balance,” an advancement officer wrote in the file. “Best to resolve quickly, if possible.”

A spokesman for the university said fund-raising matters do not weigh on admissions decisions, and that the Office of Advancement receives recommendations for students by alumni and friends from time to time. “Such a practice is not unique to UVA and can be found at similar institutions,” Anthony de Bruyn, the spokesman, told the Post.

He added that the two offices do not coordinate about applicants, but that the advancement office “receives periodic updates to better inform its stewardship efforts.”

Based on the documents the Post received, 59 students applying for fall 2017 were followed by the advancement office.

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