President Mary Sue Coleman responds to Bush Administration announcement
on affirmative action
I was pleased to hear President Bush say
that diversity, and explicitly racial diversity, in our student
bodies is very important for America's colleges and universities.
We agree that universities must continue to strive for improvements
in enrollment of African American, Native American and Hispanic
Where we disagree is on the means available
to achieve that diversity. It is unfortunate that the President
misunderstands how our admissions process works at the University
of Michigan. It is a complex process that takes many factors into
account and considers the entire background of each student applicant,
just as the President urged.
We do not have, and have never had, quotas
or numerical targets in either the undergraduate or Law School admissions
programs. Academic qualifications are the overwhelming consideration
for admission to both programs.
In our undergraduate admissions system,
fully 110 points out of 150 are given for academic factors including
grades, test scores and curriculum. We only count 12 points for
test scores, but that is because we value high school grades to
a much greater extentthey can earn up to 80 points. We consider
many other factors as well. Race is one of those, but a student
who is socioeconomically disadvantaged also can earn 20 points (students
cannot earn 20 points for both factors, however). Geographic diversity
is also important, and a student from Michigan's upper peninsula,
for example, earns 16 points. We also consider leadership, service,
and life experiences, among other elements.
In making admissions decisions to the Law
School, we also carefully review individual experiences and interests
in our highly competitive process. Everyone competes fairly for
In the end our goal is to choose among
a pool of well-qualified applicants to enroll a student body that
is diverse in a rich variety of ways. We know from extensive research
and our experience as teachers that this creates the best learning
environment for all our students, majority and minority alike.
There are no easy approaches to achieving
the diversity that we agree is important. We all wish there were,
but there simply aren't. The percentage plans that some states
have tried to achieve diversity in admissions would not work for
Michigan, nor for most other colleges and universities in the country.
There is no substitute for the careful consideration of race as
one of many factors in a competitive admissions process. No alternatives
can achieve the goal of a diverse student body while maintaining
the high academic standards for which we strive.
We have received an outpouring of support
from the nation's educators, the business and labor communities,
legal organizations, and many, many others. Their voices will be
raised as the cases progress and we anticipate a number of amicus
briefs will be filed on our behalf in February.
We look forward to our opportunity to be
heard by the Supreme Court. We believe the Court will reaffirm its
decision in Bakke and find that the University of Michigan's
admissions system is fair and legal under the Constitution.";
information on the admissions lawsuits >>
January 16, 2003
by University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman to U-M Board
of Regents >>