University of Texas President to Step Down, Notes Frustration Over Admissions Policy
AUSTIN University of Texas President Larry Faulkner says he plans to leave his post next year, concluding his tenure as one of the longest-serving presidents of the school.
Faulkner, 60, says he will continue until at least March to help ease the transition.
In a recent interview with The Daily Texan, Faulkner said he expects University of Texas System officials to start a search quickly for his replacement. He does not expect the naming of an interim president. “But my hope is that we’ll make a smooth handoff and I’ll hand directly to the next person,” he told the student newspaper.
The Austin American-Statesman and The Daily Texan reported Faulkner’s decision. He says he has disclosed his plans to close associates and top state officials, including the governor, lieutenant governor, Texas House speaker and UT System regents.
Faulkner says he wanted to time his resignation to allow the next president to prepare for the 2007 legislative session. He says there was no single issue that led to his decision, but that dealing with the Legislature is one of the toughest parts of the job.
“There’s a lot of wear and tear in the process,” Faulkner says. Faulkner presided over the university amid major state budget cuts in 2003 and during a several year period in which affirmative action policies were in flux.
The Hopwood v. Texas court case in 1996 banned using race in admissions to scholarships, financial aid and other higher education programs. The U.S. Supreme Court later, during Faulkner’s tenure, reversed that decision.
Faulkner has urged a revision in the state’s Top 10 percent admissions rule, devised in hopes of promoting diversity after affirmative action was banned. It guarantees a university spot to students graduating in the Top 10 percent of their high school class.
This year, as the Legislature considered changing the law, Faulkner said more than 60 percent of the 2004 UT-Austin freshman class was admitted under the law and that the percentage could grow in future years. He urged legislators to give the university room to consider other admissions criteria.
Proposals to modify the law died in the Legislature.
Faulkner says the law ought to be scaled back to apply to half of the number of the incoming freshman class.
“I think that if I had a frustration out of the last legislative session it would be that both polar ends of this argument — those who didn’t want to change the law at all and those who wanted to repeal it — would’ve gotten probably 95 percent of what they were looking for if they’d just gone to the 50 percent cap,” he says.
Faulkner is the third-longest serving president in UT-Austin history. By March he would have the second-longest tenure. He became president in 1998. Before leading UT-Austin, Faulkner was provost, dean of the college of arts and sciences and head of the chemistry department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
— The Associated Press
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