Chancellor Diermeier shares campus message on Supreme Court decision regarding admissions processes

Dear Vanderbilt community,

Today, in its decisions on admissions processes at Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that those universities’ race-conscious admissions practices violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. As a university leader, I am deeply disappointed by the court’s decision. We strongly believe that a university must be able to enroll the students that allow it to best serve its mission and deliver an outstanding educational experience for all. Diversity, broadly defined, is essential to dialogue, learning, innovation and growth for every member of our community. The court’s decision makes it more difficult for colleges and universities to create a dynamic campus community composed of people with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.

At Vanderbilt, we have long used a holistic admissions approach that takes many factors into account, including applicants’ academic preparation, personal experiences, extracurricular activities, leadership, engagement, geography and more. This multifaceted assessment gives us far richer information about an applicant’s qualifications than we would gain from demographic details alone. We are encouraged that the court’s decision allows us to continue to consider an applicant’s statements about how race has affected their life. The broad and diverse experiences and points of view of our students enrich every student’s education at Vanderbilt and provide important avenues for growth and development.

Vanderbilt will fully comply with the law as it relates to the Supreme Court’s decision. We are steadfast in our commitment to nurturing a diverse academic community in which we can prepare leaders with the tools, perspectives and experience they need to engage with the world and its complexities.

In the coming weeks, a university task force that was appointed in May will thoroughly assess the implications of the court’s ruling and its effects on students, faculty and staff. We will share the group’s findings as soon as they are available.

We understand that this decision will trigger strong emotions, and that members of our community will react to the Supreme Court’s decision—and the university’s position—differently. Some will welcome it, and some will be strongly opposed. No matter how we view the decision, we are members of one community, committed to free expression and civil discourse. This commitment includes the right to disagree with the policies and stances of the university. I encourage all of you to make your voice heard on this issue, whatever your opinion, while honoring our culture of respect and civility. Our staff, faculty and resources are here to help you inform and amplify your point of view.

We are committed to supporting everyone in our university community as we come to terms with the court’s decision. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the following:

We know from experience that our community will respond to this news with thoughtful action. We’ll carry on, as we always do, as One Vanderbilt, united in our common purpose and in the values we share.


Daniel Diermeier