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Graph: Institutional commitment to diversity in mission statement, 2003 - Graphical presentation of data from accompanying text

Source: National Association of College Admission Counseling, Diversity and College Admissions in 2003: A Survey Report 2 (Sept. 2003)

Of the institutions responding to NACAC's survey, most share a commitment to student body diversity, but many choose to pursue it using only race-neutral programs and policies. Only one-third of respondents consider race or ethnicity as a factor in admissions.Aside from race and ethnicity, colleges and universities have employed definitions of diversity that include geography, socioeconomic status, age, religion, parental educational attainment, citizenship, special talents and academic interests.

A greater number of institutions across the nation are adopting race-neutral approaches. The NACAC report indicates, for example, that institutions are increasingly focused on recruitment strategies to enhance diversity: "The focus on recruitment is just one significant indicator that colleges and universities have already begun adopting practices that could be considered 'race-neutral.' Indeed, if 'race-neutral' means race is not a factor in the admission decision, then this survey shows more than two-thirds of responding colleges and universities already follow 'race-neutral' policies and practices."

Text Box: Universities in California, Florida and Washington State, where racial preferences in admissions are prohibited by state law, are currently engaged in experimenting with a wide variety of alternative approaches.  Universities in other States can and should draw on the most promising aspects of these race neutral alternatives as they develop. Grutter v. Bollinger, majority opinion (Justice O'Connor, 2003)

President George W. Bush has emphasized the importance of race-neutral policies that expand educational opportunities for Americans from all racial and economic backgrounds. These policies provide feasible and innovative ways for colleges and universities to reflect the country's diversity without using race as a factor. The Supreme Court in the Michigan cases agreed that colleges needed to undertake serious, good-faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives that will achieve the diversity the university seeks before turning to consideration of race in their admissions decisions.Florida, Texas, California and Washington have already made extensive use of race-neutral alternatives. The programs in these states are serving as models for the implementation of innovative race-neutral solutions across the country.

This report, like its predecessor, illustrates the rich variety of race-neutral alternatives now available. We hope to make clear that postsecondary student body diversity is in many respects a secondary school--and even a primary school--challenge and that the most vigorous approaches to postsecondary diversity begin with a commitment to developing a pool of students equipped not only to attend but to thrive in college, to graduate from college within a reasonable period and to profit from their educational experience. Approaches that focus exclusively on the admissions process, without regard to student development both prior and subsequent to admission, can never provide more than partial remedies.


Goals of the Report

The goal of the report is to provide a catalogue of both developmental and admissions-oriented race-neutral approaches. Although this report does not describe all race-neutral approaches, it highlights some of the promising strategies. The purpose behind providing this catalogue is to set out as much information as possible for institutions that are considering what best suits their individual circumstances in light of their own goals.

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