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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Charles M. Vest, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a statement on behalf of some of the nation's leading institutions of engineering and science, said Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court "must not block our path to building the diverse scientific and engineering workforce and leadership" essential to "the future economic strength, health and security of this nation."
Vest said MIT will file a "friend of the court" brief on behalf of the University of Michigan to ask the court to retain the freedom of universities "to consider race as one of the many factors when admitting students in order to achieve this diversity and to select the most promising students."
The brief was signed by MIT, Stanford, DuPont, IBM, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Science, and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, a consortium of companies dedicated to promoting the diversity of the engineering workforce.
Vest's remarks and statements of the other co-signers are below.
"America's colleges and universities are the envy of the world," Vest said. "America's system of higher education is strong and robust because of its variety - from small liberal arts colleges, to large Land Grant institutions, and from great research universities to focused professional schools.
"The quality of education across this galaxy of schools is enhanced by the diversity of their student bodies. And this diversity in turn reflects our national character and serves our country by helping to build a coherent society and a strong economic future.
"American higher education is strong because our faculties are relatively free from government meddling in academic decisions, such as the determination of who shall study in our colleges and universities.
"The suits brought against the University of Michigan do not merely threaten some technical detail in their processes for admitting students. They threaten the quality of education in all of our institutions. They threaten the freedom, flexibility and robustness of American higher education. They threaten our ability to serve our nation and its future well.
"The University of Michigan is a public institution - a state university with a superb student body. But I want to assure the Court that America's private universities fully share the interests of the University of Michigan in this case.
"Our admissions procedures may differ in detail, but the underlying goals and philosophy are very similar.
"Schools like MIT or Stanford University first establish which of their applicants cross a high bar of academic quality based on a range of indicators such as grades, test scores and class rank - but not including race.
"Then we make difficult, subjective choices from among those applicants who crossed the high bar by assessing as best we can the whole person. Race is one of many factors considered at this stage to build an understanding of who each person is, and the context in which they have demonstrated accomplishment, creativity and drive."Our brief in support of the University of Michigan will make four essential points:
1. The interest of colleges and universities, including those with strong focus on science and engineering, in achieving diversity of our student bodies and academic communities is compelling in many critical respects.
2. We must retain our freedom to consider race as one of many factors when admitting students in order to achieve this diversity and to select the most promising students.
3. This is true for private as well as public institutions.
4. A diverse workforce and future leadership in science and engineering will be essential to our nation's future economic strength.
"The compelling national interest in these arguments on behalf of the University of Michigan is demonstrated by the fact that MIT and Stanford University are joined in submitting this brief by:
1. Two of America's largest and most important companies - DuPont and IBM,
2. The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, the nation's largest consortium of companies which dedicate resources to promoting the diversity of our engineering workforce, and
3. The two most prestigious and selective scientific advisory groups to our nation - The National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering.
"As great universities, leading corporations and national academies we have a profound responsibility to provide for the future economic strength, health and security of this nation. The Court must not block our path to building the diverse scientific and engineering workforce and leadership we need to do the job."
ask Supreme Court to allow race as a factor in U. Michigan admissions case.
Statements of co-signers of MIT's amicus brief to U.S. Supreme Court
Stanford University, President John L. Hennessy:
"Stanford has long recognized the importance of a diverse student body in creating the best learning environment for all our students. Although academic performance will always be the primary factor in our admissions process, the consideration of race and ethnicity as one factor among many helps achieve a diverse student body and fulfills our responsibility to prepare a generation of leaders that reflects the strengths and talents of all our nation's citizens."
"DuPont has joined MIT and Stanford and several other science and technology-based companies in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the cases involving the admissions policies of the University of Michigan. DuPont is dedicated to a diverse and informed workforce that will assure its competitive success on a global basis. Institutions of higher education are an important key in developing such a diverse workforce, and DuPont encourages the wise efforts of universities and colleges to increase the pool of diverse candidates for its future employees."
"IBM depends on a rich, diverse pool of talented people to compete globally. This is particularly true of science and engineering professionals," said Nick Donofrio, IBM senior vice president, technology and manufacturing. "The diversity of our technical population and the broad perspective they bring to our business give IBM a significant competitive advantage. We believe it is essential that colleges and universities take an active lead in considering candidates of diverse backgrounds and support their pursuit of careers in science and engineering."
NAE, National Academy of Engineering:
"During the course of numerous studies, the National Academies have thoroughly analyzed the existing body of knowledge on the use of standardized testing. While such tests can provide a useful data point, they should not be used as the sole -- or even the principal -- basis for college admissions decisions. The Academies argue that statistical margins of error alone suggest test scores aren't nearly as precise a measure of academic potential as commonly assumed. They further remind the Court that even test developers say their scores are not designed to provide information about all the factors that influence success in college."
NAS, National Academy of Sciences:
"In an age that will increasingly be driven by science and technology, we feel that it is critical that the leaders of science and engineering reflect the strength and diversity of America. Otherwise, our society is unlikely to accept and understand the many judgments that will depend on such expertise, and the scientific and engineering community will lose the contributions of many talented individuals. We need to be able to draw on a much larger talent pool to compete successfully in a global society and to expand the body of scientific and technical knowledge."
NACME, National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering:
"NACME believes that access to the educational opportunities available in our nation's selective universities is essential if underrepresented minorities are to have an opportunity to contribute to strengthening America's scientific and technological capabilities. We can no longer afford the potential loss of creativity, productivity and talent that results from policies and practices that inhibit the participation of any of our country's most valuable resource, our youth."