By Shoham Geva, Summer Managing News Editor
Published July 15, 2014
Tuesday, Kedra Ishop, a longtime admissions official at the University of Texas-Austin, stepped down from her position as the school’s admissions director to join the University of Michigan in a new effort to increase cohesion and support for students in the admissions process.
Ishop was approved by the University’s Board of Regents for the newly created position of associate vice president of enrollment management during their monthly meeting on June 19. Her appointment begins on September 1.
The timing of her resignation from UT-Austin has attracted some scrutiny, as the school undergoes an external admissions audit currently underway at the school, announced by the UT system June 20, four days after she notified school officials of the planned move. The audit is in response to a series of allegations that certain individuals, such as state legislators’ children and friends, received unfair advantages during the admissions process at UT-Austin.
In an e-mail interview last Wednesday, Ishop wrote that she chose to make the move primarily because of the University’s reputation and the nature of the position. She and UT-Austin officials have previously stated that plans for the move began well before the audit was announced.
“To lead a team of national leaders in their respective fields of enrollment management at one of the premier institutions in the country is a tremendous opportunity,” she wrote. “The enrollment units at the University of Michigan are already among the best and to have an opportunity to extend the ideals of a data driven, campus wide, collaborative approach to student success with an emphasis on excellence in all of its diversity is consistent with my personal and career ambitions.”
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the University was excited to welcome Ishop, and had no new information to add on the situation in Texas.
As the first to hold the position of associate vice president for enrollment management, Ishop will be responsible for facilitating coordination between four different units— the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the Office of Financial Aid, the Registrar, and the Office of New Student Programs — to increase internal connections and strengthen support for students after they are admitted and deciding where to enroll.
Fitzgerald said as the number of applicants to the University continues to grow — new records have been set each year for the past eight — the value of a cohesive process post-admittance for students in areas like securing financial aid and feeling comfortable academically and on campus has become more and more important.
He said while these four offices have in the past and do currently work together, the level of strategic leadership Ishop is expected to provide hasn’t previously been in place.
“The idea here is that Provost Martha Pollack wants to better integrate all of these offices, and work together more as a team,” he said.
Pollack recommended Ishop for the position.
Ishop also brings experience working within the framework of anti-affirmative action measures, particularly relevant to the University because Michigan’s ban on affirmative action, which was approved by state voters as a ballot proposal in 2006, was upheld by the Supreme Court at the end of this academic year.
The use of race as a factor in college admissions in Texas was banned between 1996 and 2003 as a consequence of Hopwood v. Texas before the ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2003. A second court case filed in 2012, Fisher v. University of Texas, which directly challenged UT-Austin's own race-conscious admissions policies, is currently in the Fifth Circuit Court for a second time after a 2013 Supreme Court decision found that the court had not properly applied precedent in its first decision and sent it back.
Ishop wrote that that challenges and opportunities concerning minority enrollment between the University and UT-Austin are more similar than different, with the issue having high importance for both.
“There are reasons why institutions like Michigan and Texas are the defendants in major litigation and part of the national discourse on issues of access and equity,” she wrote. “Be they federal mandates, state propositions, or state legislation the pursuit of access and inclusivity remains paramount for our greatest public institutions.”
Fitzgerald said her experience with bans on affirmative action is certainly an advantage, though he added that her focus will be on the entire field of applicants to the University.
Daily Staff Reporter Yardain Amron contributed to this report.