Dec. 9, 2015
Dear UT community,
This morning, I am in Washington, D.C., attending arguments at the United States Supreme Court in the case of Fisher v. The University of Texas. The university is defending our use of race and ethnicity as one factor in our admissions process as well as the compelling national interest in the educational benefits of diversity. The Fisher litigation began in April 2008 and, since then, multiple court opinions have upheld our admissions policy.
Colleges and universities across the nation have long been addressing questions surrounding race and ethnicity. The heightened attention on these issues in the past few months highlights their ongoing importance. Our defense in the Fisher case underscores UT's commitment to fostering a campus in which all students benefit from learning in a diverse community.
As a leading public research university, UT prepares tomorrow's leaders for a world that is increasingly global and interconnected. It's vital that our students have the opportunity to work with others from different backgrounds and experiences — and the freedom to learn from the myriad perspectives, viewpoints and ideas that should flourish on campus. Dozens of CEOs from Fortune 100 companies, retired generals and military leaders, among many others, have filed amicus briefs for the Fisher case supporting our admissions policy, saying it helps them develop the workforce they need to compete globally.
As I wrote in the Wall Street Journal this morning, our university — and the nation as a whole — benefits when we educate future leaders in an environment rich in the very diversity that has made this nation great.
During my first six months as president of UT, I have gained a deeper understanding of the significance of diversity on campus. I recently started a dialogue with a group of student leaders who come from different backgrounds on how to improve our campus climate. Their insights and ideas reinforced the importance of fostering an inclusive educational setting. I have also begun developing an action plan for increasing diversity among students, staff and faculty and addressing other issues. I will share more about this during the spring semester.
Central to these efforts remains our holistic admissions process. Our policy allows us to consider applicants' academic performance, as well as other factors including extracurricular accomplishments, socioeconomic backgrounds, hardships overcome, special talents and, in a limited manner consistent with Supreme Court precedents, race and ethnicity. And it allows all of our students to contribute in meaningful ways to society when they leave campus.
It is this process that we are defending today in the Fisher case. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court, which is reviewing the case for the second time, will reach the same conclusion that other courts have reached and enable all of our students to receive the full educational benefits of diversity.
Gregory L. Fenves