On April 14, during its annual spring meeting in Washington, D.C., the Association of American Universities, made up of 62 leading North American research universities, adopted the state ment below, expressing strong support for continued attention to diversity in university admis sions. These institutions are represented at the association meetings by their president or chan cellor--in Penn's case, President Judith Rodin. The statement also appeared as an advertisement in The New York Times.
The public debate about the goal of diversity, as well as affirmative action; the 1995 decision of the Regents of the University of California to discontinue any special consideration of ethnicity, race, and gender as factors in admissions; the passage of Proposition 209 in California; and the Hopwood ruling of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals have all combined to create substantial uncertainty about the future representation of minority students within our student bodies. Special efforts to identify and enroll women--particularly but not only in fields such as mathematics, the physical sciences, and engineering --may also be affected.
As members of the Association of American Universities, we therefore want to express our strong conviction concerning the continuing need to take into account a wide range of considerations--including ethnicity, race, and gender--as we evaluate the students whom we select for admission.
We speak first and foremost as educators. We believe that our students benefit significantly from education that takes place within a diverse setting. In the course of their university education, our students encounter and learn from others who have backgrounds and characteristics very different from their own. As we seek to prepare students for life in the twenty-first century, the educational value of such encounters will become more important, not less, than in the past.
A very substantial portion of our curriculum is enhanced by the discourse made possible by the heterogeneous backgrounds of our students. Equally, a significant part of education in our institutions takes place outside the classroom, in extracurricular activities where students learn how to work together, as well as to compete; how to exercise leadership, as well as to build consensus. If our institutional capacity to bring together a genuinely diverse group of students is removed--or severely reduced--then the quality and texture of the education we provide will be significantly diminished.
For several decades--in many cases, far longer--our universities have assembled their student bodies to take into account many aspects of diversity. The most effective admissions processes have done this in a way that assesses students as individuals, while also taking into account their potential to contribute to the education of their fellow-students in a great variety of ways. We do not advocate admitting students who cannot meet the criteria for admission to our universities. We do not endorse quotas or "set-asides" in admissions. But we do insist that we must be able, as educators, to select those students--from among many qualified applicants --who will best enable our institutions to fulfill their broad educational purposes.
In this respect, we speak not only as educators, but also as concerned citizens. As presidents and chancellors of universities that have historically produced many of America's leaders in business, government, the professions, and the arts, we are conscious of our obligation to educate exceptional people who will serve all of the nation's different communities. The evaluation of an individual applicant to our universities cannot, therefore, be based on a narrow or mainly "statistical" definition of merit. The concept of merit must take fully into account not only academic grades and standardized test scores, but also the many unquantifiable human qualities and capacities of individuals, including their promise for continuing future development. It must include characteristics such as the potential for leadership--especially the requirements for leadership in a heterogeneous democratic society such as ours.
We therefore reaffirm our commitment to diversity as a value that is central to the very concept of education in our institutions. And we strongly reaffirm our support for the continuation of admissions policies, consistent with the broad principles of equal opportunity and equal protection, that take many factors and characteristics into account--including ethnicity, race, and gender--in the selection of those individuals who will be students today, and leaders in the years to come.
Association of American Universities Member Institutions: Brandeis University Columbia University University of Toronto The Pennsylvania State University Tulane University The Johns Hopkins University University of Kansas University of Oregon University of California, San Diego Brown University Cornell University University of Virginia Princeton University University of Arizona Massachusetts Institute of Technology University of Maryland, College Park University of Pennsylvania University of California, Santa Barbara California Institute of Technology Duke University University of Washington Purdue University University at Buffalo--State University of New York McGill University University of Michigan University of Chicago Carnegie Mellon University University of Pittsburgh The University of Wisconsin, Madison Rice University Emory University Michigan State University University of Minnesota, Twin Cities University of California, Berkeley University of Colorado, Boulder Case Western Reserve University University of Rochester Vanderbilt University Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Harvard University New York University University of Missouri, Columbia University of California, Davis University of Florida The Catholic University of America University of Southern California Washington University in St. Louis Stanford University Indiana University Northwestern University University of Nebraska, Lincoln University of California, Irvine University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Clark University University of Texas, Austin Yale University Syracuse University Iowa State University The Ohio State University University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill University of California, Los Angeles University of Iowa
Volume 43 Number 35
May 20, 1997
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