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Use of Race and Ethnicity in Admissions Decisions

Use of Race and Ethnicity in Admissions Decisions

Approved by Board of Regents May 28, 2004
Download the entire Case Statement in PDF format

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Background
    1. Legal Context
    2. Health Professions Educational Context
  3. Mission Statement
    1. Diversity enhances the educational environment
    2. Cultural competence prepares graduates to address society's problems
    3. Health disparities between minority and non-minority populations exist in Texas
    4. Practice type and location is influenced by the race and ethnicity of graduates
  4. Past race-neutral admissions criteria
  5. Plan to utilize race and ethnicity in admissions decisions
  6. Regular review of use of race and ethnicity in admission decisions
  7. Notice requirement per state law

I.       Executive Summary

In June of 2003, the U. S. Supreme Court held in Grutter v. Bollinger that a public institution of higher education could consider race and ethnicity in its admissions process if it is done for the purpose of achieving a diverse student body. For the first time, the Court declared in a majority opinion that achieving diversity in a professional school student body is an interest of such public importance that race may be considered as one of many factors in making admissions decisions. However, the program was subjected to strict judicial scrutiny in order to ensure it was a legitimate means to accomplish this end and not a pretext for illegal discrimination. In light of the state of the law as shaped by the Grutter decision, The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center (HSC) has decided to utilize race and ethnicity in admissions decisions to its academic programs in a process which meets the legal standard as expressed by the Court.

The HSC has determined that increasing the diversity of its student body is a compelling interest because:

(A) Diversity enhances the educational environment.

(B) Cultural competence prepares students to address society's problems.

(C) Health disparities between minority and non-minority population exist in Texas.

(D) Practice type and location are influenced by the race and ethnicity of graduates.

The Health Science Center has found that, despite extensive efforts, race-neutral admissions criteria have failed to achieve a "critical mass" of ethnically and racially diverse students, and as a result the Health Science Center and the State of Texas have failed to realize the benefits of a diverse student body.

The HSC plan to utilize race and ethnicity in admissions decisions meets the legal standard of being "narrowly tailored" in that students are considered individually. Race and ethnicity are components of a large pool of non-cognitive factors evaluated in HSC admissions decisions. No specific numerical points are awarded to applicants on the basis of race or ethnicity. Rather, race and ethnicity become plus factors in the larger set of non-cognitive attributes and characteristics deemed desirable in enrollees.

The HSC will periodically review the use of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions to determine if its continued use is necessary and justified. These reviews will occur on two levels. Each HSC college/school will review admissions criteria on at least an annual basis. Overall review will occur within the HSC Uniform Recruitment and Retention Steering Committee (URRSC) and within the HSC Executive Committee.

State law specifies that all factors utilized in admissions decisions be published one year prior to the date of their intended use. Thus, race and ethnicity will become one element of the large pool of non-cognitive factors utilized in HSC admissions decisions for applicants desiring entry in Fall 2005.

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