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~President Diana Chapman Walsh Applauds Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action~

For immediate release:
June 23, 2003

Mary Ann Hill,

WELLESLEY, Mass. - In a statement today, Wellesley College President Diana Chapman Walsh praised the Supreme Court's decision upholding affirmative action in college and university admissions.

The full text of Walsh's statement is below.

"I welcome and applaud today's decision by the United States Supreme Court, validating the importance of diversity as an intellectual resource in institutions of higher learning. This decision solidifies a value articulated by Justice Powell in the Bakke decision 25 years ago. Today's ruling is a victory for all colleges and universities because it upholds their freedom to craft admissions policies and practices to achieve their institutional goals.

Last January, Wellesley's Board of Trustees unanimously reaffirmed its commitment to diversity and its support of the College's admissions process in a resolution stating that 'the diversity of the student body is an essential aspect of a Wellesley education and contributes significantly to the fulfillment of the College's mission of providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. The Board understands a diversity of viewpoints to be a necessary precondition for educational vitality and sees identity and experience, including racial and ethnic background, as among the important sources of the viewpoint diversity that enhances learning in a community of inquiry.'

The Supreme Court ruled unequivocally today that the government has a compelling interest in promoting the educational benefits that result from racial and ethnic diversity on college campuses. It upheld the admissions practices of the University of Michigan Law School in which race is considered as one factor in a process which considers each application on its individual merits. This is the approach that Wellesley College practices, following the Baake decision, which has now been formally re-confirmed by the highest court of the land.

At Wellesley, as our trustees stated in their resolution, 'our admissions process is designed to produce an incoming class of students who are highly intelligent, accomplished, and diverse by carefully evaluating each applicant individually based on her academic and personal promise. Included in this assessment is consideration of a whole range of aptitudes, accomplishments, and interests (both intellectual and extra-curricular) and contributions the applicant will likely make in a diverse and demanding community in which knowledge is acquired as part of the life-long process of intellectual exploration, moral engagement, and social responsibility.'

It is a great relief that the U.S. Supreme Court voted today to uphold these crucial principles."

Wellesley College is a prominent liberal arts college and has been a leader in the education of women for more than 125 years. The College's 500-acre campus near Boston is home to about 2,300 undergraduate students.


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