Guest Host: Jonathan Capehart

University of Virginia's admissions office at Peabody Hall.

University of Virginia's admissions office at Peabody Hall.

Documents published by the Washington Post reveal that the University of Virginia’s fundraising department has a nearly decades-old system for flagging applicants tied to wealthy or influential alumni or donors for special treatment. While the school’s Office of Advancement acknowledges a relationship with alumni and donors, they maintain that these relationships do not influence the school’s application process. Guest host Jonathan Capehart reviews the “watch list” at one of the nation’s most selective universities and explores what this meant for local college applicants past and present.


  • T. Rees Shapiro Reporter, The Washington Post; @TReesShapiro

UVA Statement On 'Watch Lists'

The Office of Advancement is occasionally contacted by alumni, friends and supporters recommending students who have an interest in attending UVA. Such a practice is not unique to UVA and can be found at similar institutions.
One of the primary duties of development officers at the University is to foster and maintain relationships with alumni and donors. As part of this relationship building, development officers catalog these inquiries. 
These recommendations are separate from the University’s Admission Office, which is charged with the sole responsibility of reviewing applications on a holistic basis for admission. Admission officers do not review recommendations received by the Advancement Office. Furthermore, there is a protocol by which the Admission Office does not coordinate with the Advancement Office about applicants during the application process.
The Advancement Office receives periodic updates on an applicant’s status. The Admission Office does not have access to records maintained by the Advancement Office, nor does the Advancement Office have access to admission records.  The Advancement Office does not determine whether an applicant is admitted.  Admission decisions are determined solely by the professional staff within the Admission Office.
This practice allows development officers to serve as a buffer with those alumni, donors and friends who have provided prospective student endorsements during the admission cycle. However, the Admission Office makes the independent determination on whether a student is admitted or not.

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