From USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman on the Supreme Court Decision Regarding Race-Conscious Admissions:

Today, the Supreme Court released its opinion in two cases concerning affirmative action in college admissions. The court’s majority opinion in these cases rejects 45 years of precedent affirming the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions.

The court’s ruling prohibits colleges and universities from considering a student’s race as a factor influencing admissions decisions—even among many other factors. And while the opinion does not state outright that student diversity is not a compelling state interest, neither does it affirm that it is. We strongly believe the established body of research proving that diverse learning environments provide educational benefits that better prepare students for work, for life, and for leadership. This is the very purpose of higher education.

Certainly, diversity is a guiding principle for the USM, whose mission is “to educate and serve the people of Maryland, to advance equity, justice, and opportunity, and to produce the research and scholarship that improve lives.” Today’s decision doesn’t change this mission.

And in this new landscape drawn by the Supreme Court, Maryland does, still, have an advantage in providing the diverse environments that benefit our students and our state. Maryland is among the nation’s most racially and ethnically diverse states, and so the first part of our mission statement—to educate and serve the people of Maryland—means we must reflect on our campuses and in our classrooms the state’s population. Our universities can and will do this within the bounds of federal law.

But educating Maryland’s people means more than a yes/no decision on a candidate’s application. It means advancing college access and affordability—giving every learner who wants a USM education the ability to enroll here. And it means giving these same learners—across all backgrounds and experiences—the individualized academic, financial, and social supports that help them complete their degree.

These efforts are central to the USM’s Vision 2030 strategic plan. Because we will not keep Maryland strong by leaving talent out.

Our universities have been preparing for this ruling for some time, and are examining their admissions policies and practices to determine whether any need to be adjusted.

Nevertheless, we are Maryland’s public system of higher education. We serve the people of Maryland—all of them. And the Supreme Court’s ruling today will not inhibit our ability to do just that.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore President, Heidi M. Anderson:

Today is a sad day for all of us who believe that everyone, regardless of race, creed, religion, or sexual orientation deserves the opportunity to succeed. It’s well understood that higher education can help to tear down walls that have historically denied social mobility to all people.

Affirmative action is not a crutch. It’s not an unfair advantage. It should not be illegal as a variable in the college admissions process.

For decades, it has helped level the playing field to obtain a college education for so many who have the academic capability to achieve.

It has also been a positive force for making inroads for diversity in the college experience, something that produces real rewards in today’s increasingly diverse workforce. With today’s decision, we have lost something of benefit to everyone.

Nonetheless, this now stands as the new law of the land. While it harkens back to a history we hoped never to repeat, we will comply with this new standard.

We will work with the University System of Maryland, the UMES Office of Admissions, and our General Counsel to ensure that we understand the details of this decision and its impact on our students.

We will also follow guidance promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that we remain in compliance with the Court’s decision.

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