The following articles and statements were issued or posted in online news or social media outlets by presidents and administrators of Washington-area institutions of higher education and the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area:
Link to the full text of President Cordano’s statement.
On June 29, the Supreme Court of the United States effectively ended the practice of affirmative action in higher education. The court ruled, in a 237-page opinion, that Harvard College and the University of North Carolina could not use race in their admissions decisions. The court said that doing so was a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Roberta J. Cordano, president of Gallaudet University, said in a message to the university community on Friday, June 30 that “[this] news, a clear rejection of affirmative action, in many ways strikes at the very core of our university. In 1864, Gallaudet University was established by Congressional charter under President Abraham Lincoln, becoming the first university in the world established by a federal government specifically to provide higher education access to individuals who were largely underrepresented in society. One hundred fifty-nine years ago, Gallaudet represented a radically innovative idea, well ahead of its time: a university created to provide deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing people – as Lincoln said in his 1861 address to Congress – a fair chance in the race of life.”
President Cordano also stated that “Gallaudet has and always will continue to prioritize its Congressional mandate to serve students who are deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing, while considering multiple factors [in the admissions process] such as academic achievement, standardized test scores, community service, extracurricular activities, personal essays, and letters of recommendation . . . Now, more than ever, is an ideal time to reaffirm our values and to recommit ourselves to the foundational principles that have powered Gallaudet University for the last 159 years.”
Roberta J. Cordano
President, Gallaudet University
Chair, Board of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area
Dear AU Community,
Today’s Supreme Court decision limiting the consideration of race in college admissions is a challenge, but one we are prepared to address. As stated in our message last week, American University is committed to inclusive excellence and we will continue to pursue our values through our scholarship, our teaching and learning, our work, and our community engagement. We are reviewing the court’s decision and evaluating its potential impact. We know this matter is of interest and importance to the AU community, and we will provide updates as our work progresses. We remain dedicated to fostering a diverse and vibrant AU community.
Sylvia M. Burwell
President, American University
Today’s United States Supreme Court decision barring the consideration of race for college admissions will not disrupt admissions operations at George Mason University, because Mason does not factor race into its admissions decisions.
George Mason’s admissions processes are race-neutral and have been test-optional for undergraduate admissions since 2007, more than a decade ahead of the national trend. As Virginia’s most diverse public university, Mason has long embraced an inclusive admissions policy that offers everyone who is academically prepared for the rigors of study at this top-ranked research university the opportunity to pursue the life of their choice.
When students apply to Mason, they are evaluated on their high school academic performance, extracurricular and community activities, and personal essays. Students who demonstrate they are prepared to succeed academically are admitted. As a result, we are proud to report an admission rate of more than 90 percent for undergraduates.
When we must decline admissions to applicants, we do our best to point them to alternate pathways to a college degree, which we hope will eventually lead them back to Mason for a bachelor’s degree and beyond.
While here, Mason students learn in an environment ranked by The Wall Street Journal as a top-50 public university experience. And when they graduate, they do so at rates above the national average, and without the performance disparities among demographic groups that most universities must contend with. Ultimately, Mason graduates are in high demand by regional employers, enjoying career successes that are comparable with even the most elite universities in the nation.
In August, Mason will once again welcome the largest and most diverse student body in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia. This diversity of origin, identity, circumstance, and thought is what drives our quality and defines our character. When walking across one of our campuses, the rich diversity everyone sees is not artificially curated by an admissions process primarily defined by keeping students out. It is attributable to our historic recognition that limitations of commonly accepted measures, like problematic standardized test scores or legacy affiliation, compel us to take a broader view of student potential. We have long sought to expand our reach to all communities, not lock down our opportunities for just a few.
To the countless students and parents who may now wonder if there is a place in college for them: be assured that there is. Everyone belongs at a university like George Mason, which commits itself fully to inclusive admissions, enrollment, university life, graduation, and career success.
George Mason University is proudly Virginia’s largest, most diverse, and top-ranked university for innovation. Today’s ruling will not change that.
This latest decision by the Court does not change what we know to be true: diversity matters in fulfilling our obligations in preparing future citizens — future stakeholders in our democracy. We continue to be committed to taking steps to build a better future — ensuring that the full range of voices, histories, and experiences are included in our academic community as we work to fulfill our mission.
While we are deeply disappointed in today’s decisions and will continue to comply with the law, we remain committed to our efforts to recruit, enroll, and support students from all backgrounds to ensure an enriching educational experience that can best be achieved by engaging with a diverse group of peers.”
Affirmative action was built on hope — the hope that we could be better in the future than we’ve been in the past. Georgetown embraced this hope. Now, we will need to find new ways of restoring this hope.
John J. DeGioia
President, Georgetown University
Dear Members of the George Washington University Community,
As a preeminent research institution, GW’s mission is to provide excellent educational programs, advance research and scholarship, and cultivate the next generation of leaders from all backgrounds. We work every day to create a learning environment that reflects the rich diversity of our nation and the world. We do this because we recognize the unique ways different people contribute in an academic setting, and we understand that when people with a diversity of thought, experiences, and backgrounds come together, we maximize our positive impact on society and bring better solutions to the world’s most urgent problems.
For decades, race-conscious admissions have played a pivotal role in advancing our institution’s mission, enriching the educational experience of our students, and cultivating a vibrant tapestry of diversity that supports learning and personal growth. Consideration of race in admissions as part of a holistic review of applications has long been part of GW’s approach to enrollment. This has helped our university and many others strengthen diversity on our campuses, broaden our impact, and prepare our graduates for the future. Until now, this approach has been permitted under the law.
This is why we write to you today deeply disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling.
Fostering a diverse community and expanding our impact now become more difficult. The court’s decision, which prohibits use of race as a factor in the admissions process, will likely affect how we enroll diverse and talented undergraduate and graduate students who make our vibrant community what it is today. It also threatens our students’ ability to thrive after graduation, as they work, live, and learn in an increasingly diverse world.
However, while many of us are disheartened by this ruling, we must not be discouraged. Diversity of our student body remains a core value of the university, and it is crucial to furthering inclusive excellence on our campuses. We are fortunate to be part of a community of scholars and leaders who affirm the value of a diverse community and remain committed to the important work of strengthening diversity, equity, and belonging.
Given the court’s ruling, university leadership will consider any necessary changes to our current practices, and we will operate within the constraints of the law. But we want to be clear that the values guiding us will remain: A diverse student body is essential to our mission, and it is a key element of a high-quality education that best prepares our students to succeed, thrive, and lead locally and globally.
Mark S. Wrighton
President, George Washington University
Ellen M. Granberg
President-elect, George Washington University
Today’s Supreme Court decision to overturn affirmative action is deeply concerning. As a University dedicated to racial equity and justice, and whose faculty, students, and storied alumni have advocated on the front lines to achieve equitable access for people of color, we understand the incredible challenge this decision will create for far too many individuals and communities.
The decision will not only have a devastating impact on the diversity of colleges and universities across the country, but will also decrease access to higher education for students of color everywhere. Education is still a top driver of economic success for all Americans, and this decision will have far-reaching ramifications for those seeking equity in the college admissions process and beyond.
At our core, Howard University is committed to developing scholars and professionals who drive change. At a time when we need it most, it is disheartening to know that this ruling will hinder certain students from gaining admission to institutions of higher learning and receiving a quality education that can prepare them to be change agents and contributing members of our society.
We will continue to partner with those institutions and organizations that understand the critical role affirmative action has played in ensuring equitable access to education for students of color and will closely monitor how today’s decision will impact higher education trends in the short and long term. We will also encourage others to join us in advocating for policies and legislation that safeguard a stronger future by increasing, not decreasing, educational opportunities for all.
At Marymount University, race is not a factor that is considered within admissions decisions, so we don’t foresee the need to make any significant changes to our overall admissions process as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision. However, Marymount is known for its incredibly diverse campus community – we’re ranked 23rd in the nation for diversity, and we’re more diverse than any other college or university in the nation’s capital. It’s critically important to expose our students to diverse backgrounds, cultures and perspectives, and it results in a transformational experience for all involved. So, I have deep concerns over how this ruling will impact U.S. higher education going forward and how it may limit other institutions from providing similar environments in their university communities. Here at Marymount, we will continue to dedicate ourselves to identifying and eliminating barriers of entry for students of all backgrounds.
President, Marymount University
(Excerpt) This decision doesn’t just prohibit the use of affirmative action in college admissions, but it rolls back nearly 70 years of progress in developing something resembling a moderately level playing field for students of color.
President, Trinity Washington University
The University is disappointed by today’s Supreme Court ruling that overturned the affirmative action practices used in college admissions. The decision deleteriously affects minorities across this nation and impacts Black and brown students’ ability to access quality education at the higher education institutions of their choice.
Race-conscious college admissions gives a voice and a space for minority students and yields profound cultural implications across all college landscapes. Students from all races benefit from having a diverse campus where they can learn and broaden their horizons both inside and outside of the classroom.
Affirmative action–in all its forms—historically increases opportunities for minorities, who have been disenfranchised and the recipients of an inequitable system in this nation. The race-conscious college admission process is just one factor that levels the playing field and made progress in righting the wrongs of the country’s past.
We are aware of the impact this ruling will have beyond higher education, including the long-term implications on jobs and economic opportunities for minority communities.
As an HBCU and a public institution, the University of the District of Columbia will continue to advocate, teach, and empower students to realize their highest human potential. We strive for and actively work towards becoming a nation where we can have honest conversations about the importance of race and our nation’s troubled history surrounding it. Today’s ruling demonstrates that we are not there yet as a nation, and the work must continue for equitable education for all.
Ronald Mason Jr.
President, University of the District of Columbia
Dear Terrapin community,Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the use of race as a factor in the college application review process violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. While we do not yet know the full impact of this decision on our admission practices, we do know that our already-unassailable commitment to a diverse and inclusive campus must strengthen and grow within the bounds of the law. Our Enrollment Management team and campus administration have been preparing for this moment, and we are confident in our path forward. At a time when students who have historically faced the greatest barriers to accessing higher education are being told that the admission process may become more challenging than ever, we have a clear, loud and true message: we will remain a national leader by encouraging and supporting students of all backgrounds as they apply, enroll and graduate from the University of Maryland. The educational value of campus diversity is one we will not sacrifice. We prepare for change from a position of strength. Students apply and come to the University of Maryland because they know that we offer a campus of people with diverse perspectives, cultures, and experiences. Our recent classes have increased in racial diversity and, at the same time, our academic competitiveness has also increased. This allows us to be a place where all students have the opportunity to meet their full potential. We are proud of our graduation and retention rates for Black and African American, and Hispanic and Latinx students, which are among the highest in the nation. We are proud of the impact that our graduates have on our society. We are emphatic that these strengths will continue to attract a diverse student body and allow us to continue to ascend as an institution. We are examining the immediate impact of the Supreme Court’s decision. Needless to say, this decision is disappointing. Race has never been the determining factor here at the University of Maryland. Instead, it was one of 26 unique factors that we have considered in undergraduate admissions. It has been said that it’s impossible to dismantle centuries of racism without acknowledging and considering race in the decisions we make today. However, we remain optimistic that our campus will continue to attract and retain a diverse student body. We believe strongly that diversity and excellence are intertwined. Excellence and diversity are an essential part of the Terrapin experience. To ensure our community continues to live up to these expectations, in addition to other efforts, we will multiply our recruitment efforts focused on what Maryland offers its students—a commitment to inclusive excellence where all have the opportunity to succeed. Increasing the diversity of our applicant pool can have a tremendous impact on the diversity of our student body. There is no getting around the fact that the role of race is changing in college admissions, but the University of Maryland will move forward with a bolstered commitment and a singular voice.
Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland, College Park
Jennifer King Rice
Senior Vice President and Provost
UMD leaders in support of this commitment:Gregory Ball, Vice President for Research Carlo Colella, Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Georgina Dodge, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Damon Evans, Director of Athletics Jen Gartner, Interim Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Matthew Hodge, Vice President for University Relations Jeffrey Hollingsworth, Vice President and Chief Information Officer Greg Oler, Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer Patty Perillo, Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Ullmann, Vice President for Marketing and Communications Craig Beyrouty, Dean, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources William Cohen, Dean, Undergraduate Studies Lucy Dalglish, Dean, Philip Merrill College of Journalism Steve Fetter, Dean, The Graduate School Samuel Graham, Dean, A. James Clark School of Engineering Kimberly Griffin, Dean, College of Education Dawn Jourdan, Dean, School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation Prabhudev Konana, Dean, Robert H. Smith School of Business Adriene Lim, Dean, University Libraries Boris Lushniak, Dean, School of Public Health Keith Marzullo, Dean, College of Information Studies Robert Orr, Dean, School of Public Policy Susan Rivera, Dean, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Stephanie Shonekan, Dean, College of Arts and Humanities Amitabh Varshney, Dean, College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
Dear Johns Hopkins Community,
Today, the Supreme Court issued decisions in two long-awaited cases: Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. The court found in favor of the petitioners and has determined that the race conscious admissions policies at Harvard and UNC violate federal law. We continue to review the Supreme Court’s opinions in the cases, but it is clear that the court’s decision severely curtails the consideration of race as a factor for the purpose of seeking student body diversity.
For many of us, today’s decision is a significant setback in our efforts to build a university community that represents the rich diversity of America.
We know that a variety of different barriers have long prevented students from a host of different backgrounds from accessing higher education at institutions like ours. We also know that a diverse student body enriches the educational experience and better equips our students to assume the responsibilities of citizenship.
Today’s decision appears to leave intact the programs we have created to recruit students who are the first in their families to attend college or who are from families with limited income—now composing almost a third of our undergraduate first-year class—as well as those who come from rural and urban communities across our country and who hold diverse beliefs and perspectives. But there is no doubt that the success we have enjoyed in ensuring full participation of underrepresented students is jeopardized by this decision.
This is particularly distressing given the long history of racial discrimination in our country and the relatively brief period of time during which we have succeeded in recruiting significant numbers of outstanding underrepresented students to Johns Hopkins. As recently as 2010, Black students made up only 6% and Hispanic students only 8% of Hopkins’ entering undergraduate class. Today, Black students make up 16% and Hispanic students nearly 24% of the class. And it goes without saying that these students are among those with the strongest academic credentials in the country.
We remain deeply committed to the progress we have made and even more so to the extraordinary people who make up our undergraduate and graduate student bodies.
These decisions do not diminish our resolve. In the coming days, we will closely examine the court’s decisions and assess its implications for our admissions programs. Over the last several months, we have been reviewing the approaches taken by universities in states where a referendum or statute has restricted the use of race as one of many factors in a holistic admissions process. Drawing on the lessons of their experience, we will, to the best of our ability, continue to reduce the barriers that stand between exceptional students and the promise of equal opportunity that forms the bedrock of our country and our university.
Ronald J. Daniels
President, Johns Hopkins University
Washington Business Journal
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