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UC regent says his letter for Berkeley applicant wasn't intended as unfair influence

By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Sometime after the emails, Jarich discussed which students to admit from the waitlist with Greg Dubrow, then director of research and policy analysis in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. The emails show that Jarich modified Dubrow's plan for prioritizing the waitlisted students, placing recommendations made by her and the staff on top.

Ahn also provided a list of favored students - showing that the university's fundraising arm communicated with admissions officers during decision-making periods. Such practices are common among many private universities, but UC officials have repeatedly said that donations do not affect an applicant's chances of acceptance at the public research university system.

In annotated notes written in red on the emails, the auditor's office said the exchanges showed that Jarich determined her selection strategy after she received the letters from regents. "It is therefore likely that the applicant recommended by the Regent would have been on Amy's list that she placed at the top of the priorities," the auditor's notes said.

Fernandez said that additional emails showed that the directors of admissions and development met to discuss whom to accept from the waitlist after they received copies of Blum's letter. The day after the meeting, Fernandez said, Berkeley admitted the applicant.

"These factors led us to conclude that the letter appears to have influenced UCB's decision to admit this student," Fernandez wrote in an email to The Times.

Jarich left her position as admissions director in October 2018, according to her LinkedIn profile.

 

Dubrow also left the admissions office, in November 2018, his LinkedIn profile says, and he is currently director of information strategy and analytics at the Haas School of Business Development and Alumni Relations.

Berkeley has since hired a new director of undergraduate admissions, Olufemi "Femi" Ogundele.

Fernandez said the communication between the Berkeley fundraising and admissions offices demonstrated by the emails underscored the pressing need for reform.

"Ultimately, it is the UC system's responsibility to ensure fairness in its admissions process, which is why based on what we found in the audit we recommended that all communications between Admissions and Fundraising about applicants or prospective applicants be strictly prohibited," Fernandez said.

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