Post-Grutter Diversity Review Task Force Charge
In June of this year, the United States Supreme Court revisited the use of race and ethnicity as factors in university admission policies and decisions at the University of Michigan. In its decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, the Court held that the educational benefits of a diverse student body can constitute a "compelling state interest" sufficient to justify the use of race-conscious admissions policies, at least based on the facts before it concerning the University of Michigan Law School.
The Court stressed that a university must use a "holistic" approach to diversity if it determines that race and ethnicity should be considered. In addition, the Court also cited with favor the use of a mission statement that articulated a commitment to diversity and the need for using race-conscious methods to obtain sufficient diversity. The Grutter opinion also noted that student body diversity yields educational benefits for all students.
The Court, however, stressed that "context" matters and many commentators have urged universities to conduct a review of their admission practices to determine whether the local context justifies the use of race to obtain a "critical mass" of diverse students.
Thus, I charge the Task Force to do the following:
1. Conduct a review and evaluate the University's admission policies and practices to determine whether the use of race in admissions is justified to further student body diversity at the University. In making this assessment, the Task Force may wish to review the literature developed for the Michigan case, gather data concerning demographics at this University, and consider whether supplementary data such as surveys of current students and alumni would be helpful.
2. Evaluate whether race-neutral alternatives have been or should be considered in the context of fostering and supporting a diverse student body at this University.
3. Draft a formal mission or policy statement that describes the University goals, objectives and commitment to diversity, as well as the rationale that supports the needs of and benefits from the use of race-conscious admissions practices.
4. Consider whether the University should discontinue use of all race-exclusive scholarships. If so, consider how the University should structure its financial aid program if some form of financial aid is needed to meet the University's diversity objectives.
5. Identify other diversity factors that might appropriately be considered in the University of Iowa context as part of a "holistic" approach.
Task Force Members
|Venise Berry||Journalism and Mass Comm.|
|Phil Kutzko||Professor and Collegiate Fellow|
|Victor Rodgers||former Professor, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering|
|Dabian Tyari Witherspoon||Student|
|Charlotte Westerhaus||Assistant to the President and Director of the UI Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity|
|Philip Jones||Vice President for Student Services and Dean of Students|
|Marcella David||Special Assistant to the President for Equal Opportunity and Diversity and Associate Provost|