In landmark rulings in 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court created a new and complex legal landscape for building diversity in American universities. Race can be a factor in admissions, the court ruled, but the justices also put set bounds for just how race could be employed as a factor in college admissions.
The Association of American Universities and AAAS recently convened top university attorneys and administrators in Washington, D.C., for a two-day workshop on how to press forward with diversity efforts that are seen as crucial to developing science and engineering talent from every sector of U.S. society.
The workshop was held 8-9 October. Among those involved in the effort were the Washington, D.C.,-based EducationCounsel law firm; the New York City-based Fulbright & Jaworski firm; Jamie Lewis Keith, general counsel at the University of Florida; and Shirley Malcom, head of Education and Human Resources at AAAS.
On the first day, the general counsels of 26 major research universities met with officials from AAU, AAAS and the two D.C. legal firms that specialize in the field. On the second day, university administrators at the provost and vice-provost levels were brought together to continue the discussion, with a focus on diversifying faculty.
“We gave them examples of how programs are run, how they can be described, and how they can be defended legally,” said Daryl Chubin, director of the AAAS Center for Advancing Science & Engineering Capacity. “We tell them: ‘This has worked on campuses like your own and we think it’s worth considering.’
“They don’t need any convincing,” Chubin added. “What they need are strategies and tools for...refining the way they do business.”
Daryl Chubin recently spoke about the workshop in a telephone interview with AAAS Senior Writer Edward W. Lempinen. Listen to the interview .