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Statement by the University of Pittsburgh

February 19, 2003

On Its Filing of an Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of the University of Michigan in Two Affirmative Action Admissions Cases before the U.S. Supreme Court

The University of Pittsburgh, as an institution dedicated to the development of human potential, is committed to equality of opportunity, human dignity, and diversity. A critical element of its mission is the education of the whole person, so that Pitt students become perceptive, reflective, contributing citizens whose natural abilities are enhanced by an understanding of basic social institutions and processes; a sense of history; familiarity with the richness and variety of human achievement; and an appreciation of cultures other than their own.

The University takes a holistic approach in evaluating prospective students, reviewing each application and making qualitative judgments about the contributions a particular applicant might make-to the University community, as a student, and, to the larger community, as a graduate. By employing this approach, the University has attracted and enrolled a diverse group of talented and accomplished students whose achievements are a credit to their university and home communities.

Not every college or university faces identical enrollment management issues. Therefore, it clearly is not desirable for the nation to be governed by a "one size fits all" approach to access to higher education. Instead, it is important that individual institutions have the freedom to design admissions programs that meet their particular challenges and effectively advance their own goals.

In furtherance of this belief, the University of Pittsburgh-joined by several other major public research universities-has filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the University of Michigan in the two affirmative action admissions cases to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court this spring. Among other things, that brief challenges the contention that so-called "percentage plans," guaranteeing university admission to all high school graduates who have achieved a specified class rank, would be an effective national approach to advancing what has been recognized as the compelling educational interest in diversity.

All of American higher education will be guided by the Supreme Court's rulings in these pending cases. As is reflected in the University's brief, we believe that the needs of society will best be served by decisions that foster both diverse student bodies and diverse admissions practices.

Contact: Robert Hill
[412/624-8891 (office); 412/736-9532 (cell); hillr@pitt.edu]

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