What the UMN and Carleton admissions chiefs said about Fisher v. Texas

I’ve spoken with the two Minnesota admissions directors to get an idea of how today’s Supreme Court ruling in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case could affect how they conduct admissions here.

Both said their schools need to study the ruling more before they could say anything definite. But after getting a preliminary look, they said it doesn’t appear that it will change much.


Rachelle Hernandez, director of admissions at the University of Minnesota, said the U’s current admissions policies were designed to comply with the 2003 case of Grutter v. Bollinger.

That landmark case involved race-in-admissions practices at the University of Michigan Law School, and ended up upholding the constitutionality of affirmative action.

“We’re continuously reviewing what we’re doing to make sure we’re complying with the law. … It appears that the Fisher case has reaffirmed the law under Grutter. … We feel we’re in compliance, but we’ll do a review.”

(You can also read President Eric Kaler’s statement on the Fisher v. Texas case here. )

She said the U performs what’s called a “holistic review” of candidates for admission, and takes into account a wide range of factors.

One of those is diversity. But the key to complying withe law under Grutter, it appears, is that race can’t be a deciding factor or the single most important factor.

“In our holistic review, we do consider diversity broadly defined. It is one factor among many. … Race and ethnicity will not be the deciding factor.”

(I believe diversity “broadly defined” means, according to the U’s website, “contribution to the cultural, gender, age, economic, racial, or geographic diversity of the student body.”)


Paul Thiboutot, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at Carleton College, says his college adjusted admissions procedes along the lines demanded by the Grutter case and has since “sought diversity along broad socioeconomic lines in the student body, and through that effort continued bringing in a racial diversity as well.”

He also referred to the holistic approach, saying, “We do not isolate out any of our applicants by racial grouping since 2003.”

Since 2003, he said, “we have been proceeding along lines of bolstering any arguments we can make for the value of diversity in the student body and the educational experience. … I don’t see this as a change for us.”



judging from news media reports,