Associate Professor Melinda Piket-May
Associate Professor Melinda Piket-May (University of Colorado)

COLORADO SPRINGS -- University of Colorado faculty representative Melinda Piket-May blasted the Boulder campus's 87 percent acceptance rate at a meeting of the Board of Regents on Wednesday and said the quality of students is on the decline -- an allegation that caught regents off guard.

"We're accepting almost anyone who applies," said Piket-May, a faculty council representative who gave a report to the board at its monthly meeting.

Piket-May, an associate professor of electrical, computer and energy engineering on the Boulder campus, went on to say CU's admission process is not rigorous.

"We're having a lot of difficulty in our classes with students not prepared for college curriculum," Piket-May said.

Some regents -- including Stephen Ludwig, D-Denver, and Steve Bosley, R-Broomfield -- expressed concerns that Piket-May's claims were lacking actual evidence and that they were aired in a public meeting.

"That's a radical charge to say our students are less qualified than they were in some magical time -- like the 1950s, when everyone could write like Jack Kerouac," Ludwig said.

CU officials, though, have said the school has been consistent with its admission standards -- providing clear information about its academic standards to prospective students and high school counselors, which then allows applicants to self-select before they write admittance essays and pay application fees.

Regent Michael Carrigan, D-Denver, said CU does a good job outlining its admissions qualifications. He said other schools nationally have been criticized for recruiting students who aren't qualified just so that they can have a lower admission rate publicized in college resource books and look more selective.

Chancellor Phil DiStefano discussed the new merit-based scholarship program recognizing high-caliber Colorado students. The CU-Boulder Esteemed Scholars Program will be awarded to a select group of in-state freshmen, with awards totaling $10,000 to $20,000 over four years and doled out based on students' high-school grade-point averages and test scores.

The acceptance rate at CU is up from 84 percent a couple years ago.

"We want to recruit higher-level students," DiStefano said.

At the Colorado Springs campus, Chancellor Pam Shockley said the acceptance rate ranges between 60 percent and 67 percent.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.