an obligation to communicate with the University community
on an issue in the news.
experience, most higher educational institutions in this country
consider institutional interests above any others in making
decisions, despite protestations to the contrary that we are
acting in the interests of our students, or faculty, or staff.
In the case of our decision to admit Mr. Willie Williams,
we probably should take a pass knowing the outcry might be
damaging to our hard-earned reputation.
not to in this case. Not because, as many would argue, we
need his exceptional talent on the football team. Indeed,
anyone who knows anything about UM football knows we have
so much talent that we have the luxury of being more selective
and continuing our dominance in the upper echelons of college
football. We do exactly that every year; our coaches take
character and the ability of a young man to successfully complete
a course of study very seriously. They also know from history
that it is hard to predict how well a highly-prized recruit
will do or, God forbid, if an injury will destroy an athletic
career. We choose to trust the experience of our coaches.
importantly, we choose to support the recommendation of members
of our faculty and staff who constituted our admissions group.
They possess broad experience in reading complicated admissions
applications, which in this case revealed a more accurate
picture of a young man than what you have heard and read to
date. Laws protecting the files of young people have resulted
in inaccurate public reports--and sloppy conclusions by various
is hardly a perfect applicant to the University. Oh, how we
love perfection--perfect grades, perfect character, and perfect
recommendations. Those are the easy ones! This young man is
not perfect and has made some bad decisions--in friends, in
behavior, etc. However, he is young, and his file reveals
academic talent as well as the better-known athletic ability.
is also one of us--a son of Miami. We have a special obligation,
relationship, and commitment to the young people of our South
Florida community. We want them to continue to think of us
as a place of academic excellence and opportunity. My friends
and advisors have suggested that some institution will take
him if we don't; I believe that to be a true statement. However,
our reading of his application is that he will have the possibility
of a real future if he attends an institution that is both
tough and demanding academically.
as a condition of admission, we have placed the bar high for
him. There will be academic conditions that he must meet to
play football at Miami. Additionally, he will participate
in a program that we provide for all athletes that includes
mentoring, constructive counseling, and monitoring of their
behavior--both on and off campus.
seem to you that in this case we are prepared to make a decision
that, at least on the surface, seems in his interest and not
ours as an institution. I believe that periodically having
to make decisions like this makes us a better institution.
Since it is your institution, I value your comments. Feel
free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donna E. Shalala