Board of Regents, UGA Officials Will Not Appeal Admissions Decision To United States Supreme Court
Atlanta — November 9, 2001
Board of Regents and University of Georgia officials said today they will not appeal the UGA admissions lawsuit to the United States Supreme Court, but instead will concentrate their efforts on increasing diversity on the Athens campus through other means.
University System Chancellor Stephen R. Portch said the decision was a difficult one made in consultation with the Board of Regents, University of Georgia President Michael F. Adams, the Governor and Attorney General and members of their staffs, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund representing intervenors in the case.
“All along, our legal efforts have been aimed at achieving clarity regarding the appropriate use of race as an admissions criterion,” Portch said. “We have always felt, and continue to feel, that there are appropriate instances when race should be evaluated as one of many criteria. This is why we appealed the lower court’s ruling. However, a Supreme Court case has implications far beyond our unique circumstances here in Georgia, and decisions from such cases impact the entire nation. We do not take that fact lightly. In spite of our decision not to appeal, however, we will do everything possible within present legal parameters to support the University of Georgia’s efforts to move to a more flexible admissions system while intensifying its efforts to increase diversity.”
“There is nothing to be gained by appealing this case,” agreed Ted Shaw of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
With the decision made not to pursue the legal case, President Adams said the university’s emphasis will shift – indeed over the past year already has shifted – to earlier and better identification of qualified minority students. Efforts will be focused on encouraging them to apply, recruiting them to enroll, and then working, as he put it, “to make their experience the positive college experience we want for every one of our students.” He added, “We’ve been doing this all along, but now it will be a greater emphasis supported by additional or redirected resources. The university community’s challenge continues to be communicating to minority students that UGA is a place where they are welcome and can be successful.”
“As I have said before, you often are defined by the battles in which you engage rather than by those you win,” said Adams. “This is a battle we needed to fight. We understand the legal posture and reasons for not going forward to the Supreme Court with this case. But this in no way means that the University of Georgia’s commitment to achieving diversity has lessened one iota. Our efforts in that regard will be as strong or stronger than ever.”
“The University has worked hard to enhance its minority recruiting programs, and we will continue our efforts to make it an attractive option for all,” said Gov. Roy E. Barnes.
In recent years, the first 80 to 90 percent of applicants granted admission to UGA have been accepted after a thorough academic review by having completed the required core of college-prep high-school courses with a competitively high grade-point average and SAT or ACT score. UGA weights GPA about two-to-one over the SAT or ACT score. Adams said he will recommend that that part of the system continue for the coming year.
The remaining 10 to 20 percent of applicants in recent years have been admitted after weighing a number of factors, including race, in the Total Student Index formula. The president said he will recommend that the Total Student Index system be suspended for the class entering in fall 2002 while study is undertaken as to whether it should be discontinued altogether. For the class entering next fall, the final admissions decisions will involve a full reading of files by admissions staff and faculty, as is done at many public and private schools not as large as UGA.
“With a close, full and intense reading and review of each application in that final small percentage, the university will be able to give each applicant a fair review while retaining the necessary academic flexibility to admit students with special skills, talents and qualities as recognized in the court ruling,” Adams said.
In addition, strategies that have been specifically aimed at increasing minority applications and enrollment that have been added or enhanced in the current school year will be continued and strengthened. Among them:
- Expanded admissions staff contact with minority students. In the current year, admissions staff had 13,000 in-person contacts with African-American students through high-school visits and college fairs, up from 6,800 the previous school year
- Involving UGA students as recruiters. This year, current students telephoned 70 percent of all African-Americans admitted to UGA to assist in recruiting. Fifty currently enrolled African-American students were trained for the “Back to High School” program, in which they return to their home high school to encourage other top students to attend UGA.
- Transfer recruitment. A full-time admissions counselor is now assigned to recruit transfer students. Staff participated in 19 Georgia PROBE transfer fairs, and recruited more heavily on two-year campuses.
- A satellite admissions office has been established in Decatur, with one soon to open in Tifton, and a third planned for the Griffin area, each with a full-time recruiter.
- Emphasis on pre-college programs, such as providing admissions information through county extension offices and building summer residency programs for middle school 4-H members.
- Emphasis on expanded recruitment of graduate and professional minority students.
Editors note: The quotes of Chancellor Portch and President Adams are for extended use and attribution by the press. Neither Portch or Adams will be available for comment beyond this statement.