7.3.13 … Davidson College: What’s race got to do with it? …

Davidson College, Fisher Vs. University Of Texas, High Expectations, Need-Blind Admissions, Voting Rights, Equal Opportunity, Higher Ed, Racial Diversity, Student Outcomes, College News, Dr. Carol E. Quillen: Well said, Dr. Quillen.  I am blessed to have attended this great institution and to have a child currently there.

At a time when Americans increasingly self-segregate, choosing to live, worship, study and socialize with like-minded folk who look alike, Davidson students live and work for four years among people from diverse backgrounds whose experiences, perspectives and deepest convictions differ. Higher education leaders need to measure how this heterogeneity improves learning and prepares graduates for a rapidly changing, interconnected world.

Serve the students we claim to want.

Historically homogeneous colleges need to investigate how to serve a racially mixed and socio-economically diverse student body and to capitalize on the educational benefits that diversity enables. These benefits must accrue broadly — as Justice Thomas reminds us, we cannot sacrifice children of color to redeem their white classmates.

We have already learned a lot7.3.13:  . To help make equal opportunity real, Davidson practices need blind admission and we meet demonstrated financial need without requiring loans. Retention data led us to change how we offer academic support and to affirm our high expectations. We know that peer mentoring nurtures resilience and that research opportunities can retain students of all races in science and math. Student surveys pointed out unexamined assumptions of our curriculum, and we added courses to incorporate new fields of study. We have come far. We have a long road ahead.

Doing these three things will keep our attention on our highest aspiration — making equal educational opportunity real. Race conscious admission emerged to combat an inherited race inequality so deeply entrenched that it survived judicial and legislative efforts to eradicate it. Our commitment to this fight can remain absolute even as we evaluate the means we have chosen to wage it. With much still to learn, let’s embrace the invitation that Fisher holds out. Perhaps our myopic focus on race conscious admission has blinded us to more effective tools we can immediately deploy. Davidson welcomes allies in the urgent, ongoing quest.

Dr. Carol E. Quillen is the President of Davidson College and a Professor of History.

via Dr. Carol E. Quillen: Race and College.

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