Dear Members of the Yale Community,
This morning, the Supreme Court issued decisions in two cases that examine the consideration of race in admissions. It will take some time to fully consider the implications of the Court’s decisions and review our admissions policies in light of them. As we do this work, I write today to reaffirm Yale’s unwavering commitment to creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive community. This principle is core to our mission of teaching aspiring leaders to serve all sectors of society and improving the world through research and scholarship, education, preservation, and practice. We will continue to foster diversity in its many dimensions and will use all lawful means to achieve it.
As I consider today’s rulings, I am deeply troubled, but I also have hope when I reflect on the words of the Reverend Pauli Murray, eminent Yale graduate, civil rights icon, and namesake of one of our residential colleges. In 1979, the Reverend Murray remarked that “true community is based upon equality, mutuality, and reciprocity. It affirms the richness of individual diversity as well as the common human ties that bind us together.” These principles have guided Yale in the long journey to bring the promise of higher education to more students, including veterans through the GI Bill, women with the advent of coeducation, and those from underrepresented groups by increasing racial and socioeconomic diversity. Yale is committed to continue this journey and build on the progress we have achieved together.
As we argued in the amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief that Yale filed in the Harvard and University of North Carolina cases together with several other universities last year, diversity vitally enhances higher education. A student body that is diverse across every dimension, including race, improves academic outcomes for all students, enhances the range of scholarship and teaching on campus, improves critical thinking, and advances the understanding and study of complex topics. Generations of Yale students, alumni, faculty, and staff can attest that Yale’s diverse educational environment has positively contributed to their creativity, adaptability, and leadership.
A whole-person admission review process that takes into account every aspect of an applicant’s background and experiences has enabled colleges and universities to admit the classes they need to realize their missions. Restricting this ability limits universities in opening their doors to students with the widest possible range of experiences. This is a detriment to everyone who benefits from the diversity of our campuses.
Beyond Yale, and as evidenced by the broad range of voices that joined Yale in submitting amicus briefs in the case, as a nation and global society, we are strengthened by a higher education system that admits and graduates into the workforce diverse and excellent cohorts of students. To the extent today’s decisions impede progress in this regard, I believe they have done the nation a disservice.
Despite my strong disagreement with the Court’s decisions, I am committed to the rule of law. In the coming months, deans of admissions and other university leaders will review Yale’s admissions policies to ensure that Yale College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and every professional school comply with the law as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Going forward, schools will communicate as needed to their prospective and current students, as well as faculty, staff, and alumni. In September, Yale Law School will host a panel discussion for members of the Yale community. Panelists will share their expert perspectives and legal analysis on the Court’s ruling.
In 1964, during another challenging time in this nation’s history, Yale’s seventeenth president, Kingman Brewster Jr., stated, “our educational as well as moral obligation is to reaffirm the ideals we believe in.” I agree strongly with that sentiment. The Court’s decisions may signal a new legal interpretation, but Yale’s core values will not change. Today, I emphatically reaffirm that Yale is fully committed to creating an inclusive, diverse, and excellent educational environment; to welcoming students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds; and to ensuring that our university is home to a diverse range of ideas, expertise, and experiences.
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology