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Press Release

Teresa Thomas

For immediate release:
February 14, 2003

Carnegie Mellon University Files Friend of Court Brief on Behalf of Affirmative Action, University of Michigan

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University will file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief to the United States Supreme Court in support of the University of Michigan and the right of universities and colleges to use Affirmative Action in their admissions.

At least 30 colleges and universities from across the United States will join in the filing. More are expected to join before the Feb. 18 filing deadline.

Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon announced the university's intention to file the brief in January. "Affirmative action is essential to making Carnegie Mellon a diverse university, which is crucial for making it the best university it can be," said Cohon.

"I have decided that the stakes in the University of Michigan case are so high and diversity is so important to our university that Carnegie Mellon will actively support the University of Michigan by filing a friend of the court brief in favor of their position," Cohon said.

Carnegie Mellon's brief does not focus on specific programs, but instead endorses the larger concept of Affirmative Action. It argues that diversity continues to be a compelling interest that justifies the use of race as one factor among many in college and university admissions.

The brief states that "a racially diverse student body serves and enriches the higher education of all students and is essential to the training of leaders for our pluralistic world."

The brief also takes issue with the suggestions of some that diversity can be accomplished by using so-called "race-neutral" means, noting that those may work for large public universities, but fail for highly selective private universities, and that "race neutral percentage" plans used in Texas, California and Florida depend upon segregated high schools to achieve diversity in the public universities of those states.

Carnegie Mellon University Vice President and General Counsel Mary Jo Dively said that current standards have had a "profound and positive" influence on the Pittsburgh campus.

Carnegie Mellon officials point to a campus milestone: the retention rate of minority freshmen has reached 98%. "This compelling evidence responds to the charges of some critics who contend that universities use race to admit individuals who would otherwise not be qualified to be there," said Dively.

More details of the brief and the list of colleges and universities joining on amicus curiae can be found at after Feb. 18.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Carnegie Mellon can offer experts to speak about the filing. Please contact Carnegie Mellon Media Relations Associate Gretchen Underwood at 412-268-4290 for more information.


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