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Press Release

Northeastern Submits Amicus Brief to Supreme Court in Support of Michigan

Supporting University of Michigan, Northeastern President Freeland calls diversity essential to mission of higher education

February 14, 2003

BOSTON, Mass. --- Northeastern University today submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the affirmative action policies of the University of Michigan in a case to appear before the nation’s highest court this spring. In it, Northeastern’s President Richard M. Freeland made public his strong support of the University of Michigan and his belief in affirmative action as a vital and inextricable part of the mission of higher education. "As an institution of higher learning, Northeastern University prepares students for the future and supports the national promise of equal opportunity for all,” Freeland said. “Northeastern enrolls, educates and graduates a diverse student body, with a historic focus on preparing students for the professional world through its flagship program of cooperative education. Northeastern strives to ensure that the workforce of the future, across the full range of professions, is diverse and inclusive. Affirmative action policies that consider race among a number of criteria in the admissions process are essential to the achievement of this mission.”

Citing the role of its work with co-op partners and other businesses and government agencies who employ Northeastern students and graduates, the brief argues that Northeastern helps “both public and private employers to develop a workforce that … has the skills to deal with diversity in the workplace, and with a diverse consumer population.” The brief stresses that for Northeastern University, “the educational benefits of diversity are so compelling that diversity must be regarded not simply as a means of enhancing the education that the University provides, but as essential to the educational experience itself.”

“Northeastern has defined its mission as a world leader in practice-oriented education, and has determined that diversity is essential to that mission. Northeastern must not lose the ability to select its student body bearing in mind this educational mission,” the brief says.

“Diversity is a work in progress at Northeastern,” Freeland said. “We must continue to celebrate it as a value and pursue it as a central element of our institutional character.”

The University of Michigan came under attack in 1997 in two separate cases involving the university’s affirmative action policies for incoming undergraduates as well as applicants for its school of law. The two cases will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 1, 2003. The amicus brief was drafted by Northeastern University’s Office of University Counsel working with the Boston law firm Palmer & Dodge LLP.

Contact: Emily Donahue: 617-373-5720

http://www.nupr.neu.edu/2-03/amicus.html

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