Archive for Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Colorado shooting suspect wrote of ‘unquenchable curiosity,’ experiences working with underprivileged children in KU application

September 5, 2012


He wrote of an "unquenchable curiosity" and owned a long list of academic accomplishments to back up his stated lifelong goal "to increase the efficiency of how human beings learn and remember."

But before Kansas University could interview James E. Holmes for a possible slot in the neuroscience graduate program, Holmes withdrew his application.

That was in February 2011.

A little over a year later — this past July — police say Holmes entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. and started shooting, killing 12 and injuring 58 others.

In 2011, Holmes, carrying a 3.94 grade point average from the University of California, Riverside, applied to six graduate schools before being accepted to the neuroscience program at at the University of Colorado, Denver.

The Journal-World filed an open records request last week seeking access to the records pertaining to Holmes' admission application to KU. On Wednesday, KU provided the documents.

In his KU application, Holmes wrote about his experience as a camp counselor and helping underprivileged children, some of whom had mental disorders and were heavily medicated.

"The medication changed them from highly energetic creative kids to lax beings who slept through the activities. I wanted to help them but couldn't. This is where neuroscience research becomes invaluable," he wrote.

He wanted to get a doctorate in neuroscience. "Indeed all aspects of society have the potential to gain from advancements in our understanding of the learning and memory because we are all connected. We all share one brain, the human brain," he wrote.

His transcript shows high grades, many honors and academic research. He stated he was fascinated with "long lost thought seemingly arising out of nowhere into a stream of awareness."

He added, "Making new discoveries in neuroscience is intrinsically rewarding in its own right. I have an unquenchable curiosity, a strong desire to know and explore the unknown, and a need to persist against the odds."

After Holmes withdrew his application, Elias Michaelis, professor and co-director of Graduate Studies for the Neuroscience Graduate Program wrote Holmes a letter. Michaelis said he was sorry Holmes had withdrawn his application, writing "we would have been most interested in having you come for an interview."

Michaelis thanked Holmes for applying and wished him luck.

One of the six schools that Holmes had applied to was the University of Iowa. After Holmes visited the campus for an interview, a professor there emphatically recommended against Holmes' admission to the program, according to documents.

"Do NOT offer admission under any circumstances," wrote the Iowa professor Daniel Tranel.


Bob Burton 5 years, 8 months ago

Scott, Nobody cares!!! Enjoy the cool weather & may you get rain..

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 8 months ago

So glad we dodged that bullet.Pun intended.

Dusty Murphy 5 years, 8 months ago

I'd be rather interested in knowing why Iowa refused to allow him under any circumstances but we were super interested in him. Did I miss something in a separate/previous article?

fiddleback 5 years, 8 months ago

No that hasn't been disclosed, as his reasoning was presumably not recorded as part of the public record.

Phillbert 5 years, 8 months ago

It says in the article Iowa was interested too until they actually interviewed him.

geekin_topekan 5 years, 8 months ago

Good thing KU doesn't hire convicted felons. Guys like this might get through and...Hey, wait a minute!

Jeffrey Dahmer, the Colorado shooter, Gabirelle Gifford shooter, the Army guy shooter, the most recent KU mow-down on Tennessee street, none of them convicted felons yet all committed horrendous crimes.

When was the last convicted felon who committed an act anywhere near these? None, never? Looks like KU is discriminating against the wrong population.

roggy 5 years, 8 months ago

I think people are interested! If KU had interviewed this young man they may very well have come to the same conclusion as the Iowa professor. He must have looked very good on paper but showed a very different side in person. I'm glad he withdrew from KU but it sure is sad for Colorado.

fiddleback 5 years, 8 months ago

This is some pretty warmed-over grist to even bother publishing. Holmes used the exact same words and essays in applications to other schools that have already been released. The KU portion of this story is fruitless.

jmadison 5 years, 8 months ago

Are all student applications for admission public records?

costello 5 years, 8 months ago

I was wondering the same thing. How do we have access to this information?

fiddleback 5 years, 8 months ago

He's not a "student" protected by FERPA until he's enrolled and attending. So the only thing withheld would have been private info like SSN, exam scores, etc.

jmadison 5 years, 8 months ago

Does the university include a caveat that the applications of students not accepted to the university are deemed to be public documents?

fiddleback 5 years, 8 months ago

I doubt it. This is obviously a pretty unusual circumstance, and there may be some discretion to withhold. But given that all the other schools rolled over, I imagine that created more pressure on KU to follow suit.

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