While not surprising, today's long-anticipated ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the consideration of race as a factor in college admissions is deeply troubling. Throughout higher education, diversity is widely understood to be of critical importance to the education we deliver. At UMBC, we have long championed and served as a national model of inclusive excellence. We know that diversity, equity, and inclusion are not merely moral imperatives; they are imperative to the excellence of our teaching and research, and they are foundational values for our university.
In striking down race-conscious admissions as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, the court's ruling stands to turn back decades of progress. And all of higher education faces new challenges with respect to the strategies and tactics with which institutions seek to diversify their communities. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion: "In so holding, the Court cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter. The Court subverts the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society."
UMBC does not explicitly consider race as a factor in its admissions reviews; however, there is work ahead to understand the full impact (both real and potential) of today's ruling. To that end, a working group of broad university representation, led by Tanyka Barber, UMBC's vice president for institutional equity and chief diversity officer, will take up the work of a comprehensive review in light of the ruling. This review will extend beyond race and admissions to encompass a thorough consideration of programs and activities related to all protected categories. The group's work will inform any changes that may be necessary to comply with the court's decision while maintaining our commitment to inclusive excellence.
We will keep you apprised as this work progresses and the full ramifications of today's ruling become clearer. To be sure, we will not shrink from our commitment to diversity. I expect that other institutions, as they have in the past, will look to UMBC to lead the way. We aim to do so with the courage of our convictions and the strength of this remarkable educational community.
President Valerie Sheares Ashby