‘Special Factors’ Helped Quayle Law School Admission

Times Staff Writers

Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle was admitted to law school in 1970 through a special “equal opportunity” program designed to “reach out” to the poor, racial minorities and other students who might not be admitted through regular procedures, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Friday.

A Quayle spokesman confirmed that the program was Quayle’s route into law school, but defended its use. He said it had permitted the school to excuse the fact that Quayle’s college grades were too poor to earn him admission under ordinary standards by taking note that Quayle had attended DePauw University, where he said good grades were more difficult to obtain.

The special Indiana University law school program provided admission to a small group of students who could demonstrate “special factors” that outweighed grades and test scores too low for ordinary admission.

In return, those students were expected to enroll in summer courses designed to introduce them to the rigors of legal education, according to the faculty member who ran the program, Charles Kelso, now a law professor at McGeorge Law School in Sacramento.

15 Special Factors

Kelso said he could not recall whether attendance at a school like DePauw would be one of the 15 special factors that qualified a student for admission under the program.


Campaigning in Canton, Ohio, Quayle told reporters: “I got into law school fair and square.”

Asked if he had enrolled in a special program, he said he had taken a summer course. “It was just a class that was recommended to me by the dean,” he said.

Later, in a TV interview in Youngstown, Ohio, he said of the article: “It’s not true. . . . Here we go again. I want to continue to talk about the issues of this campaign. People are getting a little sick and tired of . . . false newspaper stories and false accusations.”

The Plain Dealer quoted Quayle spokesman Jeff Nesbit as saying the special program allowed Indiana University to take into account that Quayle had been graduated from “one of the finest colleges in the Midwest.” He referred to DePauw as “the Harvard of the Midwest, the top of the top.”

DePauw, in Greencastle, Ind., was not included among the top 30 small liberal arts colleges in the most recent ranking of colleges and universities compiled by U.S. News & World Report magazine, which was based on a survey of college presidents. The list named five schools in the Midwest, including one in Indiana.

Nesbit said later, after talking with Kelso, that Quayle’s “work in the state attorney general’s office” in the months preceding his law school admission bolstered his qualifications.

Significant Contribution

Quayle’s father, James, has acknowledged that the family of Quayle’s maternal grandfather, newspaper publisher Eugene C. Pulliam, made a significant contribution to Indiana University at the time of Quayle’s admission, but James Quayle said there was no connection.

The admissions dean at the time, G. Kent Frandsen, was a Republican judge in Lebanon, Ind., who later conducted Quayle’s wedding ceremony, the Plain Dealer reported. James Quayle is president of the company that owns the newspaper in Lebanon.

A spokesman for the law school, Charlotte Wright, initially said Friday that the school’s dean, Norman Lefstein, planned to issue a statement on the matter. Friday evening she said that “the administration has decided we would like to make no comment.”

Law school officials had previously offered conflicting stories about the special program and about how Quayle was admitted to it. Cleon H. Foust, who was the law school dean when Quayle was admitted, told the Plain Dealer that the program was intended primarily to increase the number of black students admitted.

But Kelso said Friday that his recollection was different, and Quayle spokesman Nesbit said flatly: “It was not an affirmative action program.”

Staff writer Cathleen Decker contributed to this story from Canton, Ohio.