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Report Offers Guidance for Protecting Diversity in Science and Engineering

by Amanda Yarnell
October 11, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 41

Credit: Amanda Yarnell
Credit: Amanda Yarnell

More than a year ago, the Supreme Court delivered a pair of rulings that affirmed the value of diversity in higher education but struck down the use of race as a quantitative factor in undergraduate admissions decisions. To help bring order to the confusion created by those rulings, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) last week released a report that clarifies legally defensible options for protecting diversity in science and engineering programs.

"The mixed messages of the Supreme Court have left the academy without guidance as to how to increase diversity at our universities," AAAS President Shirley A. Jackson said. In that void, universities have come under pressure to open minority-targeted programs--including those aimed at increasing minority participation in the sciences--to other races, she added.

The AAAS/NACME report provides a legal primer to help university counsels interpret the recent court rulings and describes design principles for minority-targeted programs that can serve as a checklist for faculty and administrators. The report urges universities to clearly state their commitment to diversity in their mission statements. Among other things, it also encourages planners to be explicit about program goals and to gather data on program outcomes.

The report is available on the Web at


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