he following is the text of an e-mail sent by UM President Mary Sue Coleman and Provost Theresa A. Sullivan to University faculty and staff on January 10, 2007:
We are writing to let you know of the University’s next steps with respect to Proposal 2 for admissions and financial aid. In December, we successfully sought a court delay in implementing Proposal 2 for this year’s admissions cycle because we believed an abrupt change in our review process would be unfair to applicants. We remain concerned about these issues. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit lifted the stay while a related appeal continues, and that process could take several months to resolve.
We cannot sustain any further delay in our admissions process without harming our ability to enroll a class of students for the 2007-08 academic year. Therefore, we are resuming admissions today at all levels of the University. As stated in the language of Proposal 2, our admissions and financial aid processes will not discriminate, nor grant preferential treatment to, any individual on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. Of course, we will recognize exceptions provided in the amendment including one for programs that receive federal funds.
We want to emphasize that there is uncertainty about how Proposal 2 will be interpreted by the courts. However, because of the Sixth Circuit Court’s decision and in the absence of further guidance from the courts, we will proceed cautiously by adjusting our admissions and financial aid policies such that race and gender will have no effect on the decision-making process.
We take these actions with regret, because we believe it would be fairer to applicants for us to wait until after the conclusion of the current cycle before making any changes.
The University has been named as a defendant in a number of Proposal 2-related lawsuits in state and federal court. Those lawsuits will proceed, and we will defend ourselves against those challenges as well as any others that may arise. After February we also will have benefit of Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s executive order review to provide further guidance and clarity. Our Diversity Blueprints task force is hard at work developing innovative strategies for pursuing diversity within these new constraints, and will deliver its initial recommendations by February 15.
When admitting students to U-M, our focus has always been first and foremost on academic excellence. By far the greatest consideration in undergraduate admissions is given to the student’s academic achievement in challenging, college-preparatory courses. In addition, we will continue to consider a range of attributes that contribute to a dynamic and diverse intellectual environment, including: the student’s character and motivation; interesting personal experiences; special talents and abilities; geographic diversity; civic engagement and concern for community; demonstrated ability to overcome obstacles; leadership potential; grasp of world events; intellectual interests; and socioeconomic indicators such as low income or being the first in the family to attend college.
We ask the assistance of our entire community to welcome prospective students and encourage them to apply prior to the appropriate admissions deadline. The University will continue to honor all financial aid commitments made to our current students, including those commitments made to students admitted on or before December 29, 2006. Any students with questions or concerns about financial aid should contact the Office of Financial Aid for assistance.
We know Proposal 2 has raised many questions, and several University units are prepared to help with answers. Regular updates and FAQs will be posted to our website at <http://www.vpcomm.umich.edu/
diversityresources/proposal2.html>. Faculty and staff who have questions about the application of Proposal 2 may seek guidance from their dean or unit director, or write to [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>. Current students with questions may write to [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]> or visit the Student Matters website at <http://www.umich.edu/~ovpsa/>. Students and parents also will find useful information on the Financial Aid website (<http://www.finaid.umich.edu/>) and Undergraduate Admissions website (<http://www.admissions.umich.edu/>).
The University of Michigan is a national leader in diversity and we remain fully committed to building a campus made up of individuals of varied backgrounds and perspectives. Our diversity improves the quality of our teaching and learning, our scholarship and our creative endeavors. Although Proposal 2 removes some tools available to public institutions, we can still seek diversity in our student body, staff and faculty.
The University of Michigan is a dedicated and creative community, and we will seek innovative new ways to sustain our diversity within the boundaries of the law. We must keep the doors of opportunity open for all.
Mary Sue Coleman, President
Teresa A. Sullivan, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs