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  Web Editor:
  Vernellia R. Randall
Professor of Law
The University of Dayton
Web Editor
Race and Health Care
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Legal Education
The JD Project

Legal Experts Publish Higher Education
Admissions Compliance Manual

Provides Guidance for Admissions Officers on Anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court Arguments in University of Michigan Cases

(April 1, 2004) - On the anniversary of the Supreme Court oral arguments in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases, three leading law firms today announced the availability of Preserving Diversity in Higher Education: A Manual on Admissions Policies and Procedures After the University of Michigan Decisions, an innovative publication that provides a clear, comprehensive legal interpretation of the Supreme Court decisions to assist universities and law schools around the country as they redraft their policies to comply with the 2003 high court rulings.

The 200-page publication was researched and written by attorneys from the law firms Bingham McCutchen LLP, Morrison & Foerster LLP, and Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe LLP. Preserving Diversity is a tool for admissions officers, general counsels, and others involved in crafting admissions policies.

"Many admissions offices are currently crafting new policies, or revising old ones," explained lawyer Michael Begert of Bingham McCutchen, one of the manual's authors. "The knowledge that decisions are being made right now about admissions procedures provided the impetus to provide this crucial information."

Bob Laird, former Director of Undergraduate Admissions at UC Berkeley, added, "The Preserving Diversity manual combines careful, intelligent legal analysis with practical information for campus attorneys, admissions policy makers, and the admissions professionals who carry out those admissions policies. It is an outstanding tool for colleges and universities-and their boards of trustees."

Preserving Diversity describes the legal and constitutional framework appropriate for reviewing race-conscious admissions policies and provides guidelines for developing such policies in the aftermath of the University of Michigan decisions.

The publication also details documentation useful to support race-conscious admissions plans, discusses remedial justifications for race-conscious admissions programs, and analyzes the use of race in financial aid, scholarship, recruitment, and outreach programs.

In the Michigan decisions (Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger), the Supreme Court embraced diversity as a "compelling interest" for higher education institutions and allowed flexibility in constructing race-conscious admissions plans.

"The issues are complex," explained lawyer Jennifer Lee Taylor of Morrison and Foerster, "and different universities and law schools will use varying admissions processes, as a large, public undergraduate program will face different challenges than a small, private graduate school program."

"The manual clearly articulates the relevant legal principles that should guide various types of institutions in complying with the Court's opinions," added Robert Borton of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe.

Bruce Walker, Vice Provost and Director of Admissions at the University of Texas at Austin, explained, "Universities who have been through a lawsuit on the use of race in admissions (and particularly those who lost, as UT Austin did in 1996), have a keen appreciation for the importance of the legal details of an admission policy. This manual will be highly valued by the practitioners who run admission offices, the administrators who set policy and the legal departments who advise them.

"The Preserving Diversity manual will serve as an important reference as colleges and universities review their policies following the Supreme Court decisions regarding the use of race in college admissions," Walker added.

The three law firms compiled the compliance manual as a public service. The manual can be downloaded free of charge at on this site (see links to the right) and or by requesting it at

Attorneys at each of the law firms are willing to provide further information about the compliance manual to the press.

Production and distribution of the Manual has been made possible by a special grant from the MK Level Playing Field Institute, dedicated to promoting innovative approaches to fairness in higher education and workplaces by removing barriers to full participation. For more information, please visit


Download the Complete Manual (PDF)

Complete Manual (3.14 mb)

Download the Manual by Sections (PDF)

Cover, Table of Contents, Introduction

Chapter I: Basic Legal and Constitutional Principles

Chapter II: Admissions Programs

Chapter III: Useful Documentation to Support and Defend Admissions Policies

Chapter IV: Developing Admissions Policies When Considering Race is Prohibited

Chapter V: Remedial Justifications for Race-Conscious Policies

Chapter VI: Recruitment, Financial Aid, Support and Other Admissions-Related Programs

Chapter VII: Faculty and Staff Hiring

Appendix Insert

Appendix 1a: Gratz

Appendix 1b: Grutter

Appendix 2: Reaffirming Diversity: A Legal Analysis of the U. Mich. Affirmative Action Cases

Appendix 3: U. Mich 2003-04 Undergraduate Application, Guidelines and Process

Appendix 4: "Race-Neutral" Policies

Appendix 5: U.S. Dept. of Education Final Policy Guidance

Appendix 6: Additional Resources


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