University of Kentucky mistakenly sends 500,000 acceptance letters

The University of Kentucky extends apologies to nearly half a million high school seniors after mistakenly emailing them acceptance letters.

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After falsely offering prospective students admission to its school’s clinical leadership and management program in the College of Health Sciences, the University of Kentucky found themselves offering apologies almost immediately after.

The students were accepted to the program, which usually admits only 35 to 40 students per year, via an email on March 15 that read “We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the selective Clinical and Management program in the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences for the Fall 2021,” reported WLEX-TV.

(Image courtesy of WLEX-TV)

“I was like, ‘Mom, I just got accepted into the University of Kentucky,'” said Mary Dougherty, a senior from San Antonio, Texas, reported WLEX-TV. “And she’s like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you applied to University of Kentucky.’ And I was like, ‘oh, I did not,'” he said.

Erin Esping, a senior from Georgia, said “I had to google it just to make sure it was a real college because, like, I’ve heard of them. But I’m not so sure.”

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Less than 24 hours later, the school apologized in another email, referencing the cause of the error as a “technical issue.”

“Only a handful of those on the prospect list had been admitted to UK,” said Jay Blanton, the university’s Chief Communications Officer, to the Lexington Herald-Leader. “The vast majority had not, nor had the vast majority of these students expressed an interest in the program. Nevertheless, we regret the communication error and have sent correspondence to all those who were contacted, offering our apologies.”

(CHARLES BERTRAM/Lexington Hearld Leader)

The Herald-Leader reported that Blanton further explained that the mass email was forwarded via the school’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, which the university used to reach out to a list of prospective students.

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“Think of it as a much more sophisticated tool than say MailChimp to send a newsletter. There has to be a platform for distribution – whether a current student or one we may be recruiting. It is a common practice in higher education,” Blanton said.

“So, the student could have indicated they were interested in UK at some point or they may have sent an application. There are a number of ways we would have their contact information,” he continued.

WLEX-TV reported that Blanton said, “A very small number – a handful” of students who received the acceptance email “had expressed interest in this particular program,” and all the students who were actually admitted to the program did, in fact, receive their acceptance letters.

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