Skip to main content

Office of the President Emeritus
Hinman Box 6166
Hanover, NH 03755
Phone: (603) 646-0016
Fax: (603) 646-0015

Statement by President James Wright on Supreme Court affirmative action decision

June 23, 2003

We at Dartmouth are extremely pleased that the Supreme Court has upheld the consideration of race as one factor among the many that inform college admissions decisions. In its ruling, the Court reinforced the principle that Dartmouth has explicitly followed since 1921 that there is a "compelling interest" in promoting diversity on our nation's campuses, citing both the educational benefits of a diverse college community and the need to train leaders who can respond to the challenges of an increasingly complex society. This surely has been a purpose of Dartmouth College since its founding in 1769. The Court also acknowledged that colleges and universities "occupy a special niche in our constitutional tradition," and should be allowed significant freedom to define their educational missions and select the students best suited to help achieve those missions. This holding has particular resonance for Dartmouth, for it was in the famous Dartmouth College Case (1819) that the Supreme Court first gave judicial voice to the principle of educational autonomy.

Dartmouth's commitment to diversity is based on the belief that each person brings a unique blend of experiences and talents to the community. This philosophy has shaped the admissions policies of Dartmouth's undergraduate, graduate and professional programs, which consider ethnicity as one factor among many in admissions decisions. We seek to admit students to Dartmouth, selecting from among many highly-qualified applicants, who will shape a class that is more than a collection of qualified individuals. We are confident that our intensive consideration of each candidate as an individual meets the standards outlined by the court in the case involving the University of Michigan Law School.

The inclusion of students from a variety of ethnic, social, economic, geographic and personal backgrounds has strengthened the Dartmouth community and meets our goal of providing for our students an education that will serve them well in the 21st century. We will continue our efforts to provide an education enriched by our differences, rather than limited by them.

Last Updated: 8/21/08