June 29, 2023
Dear Members of the HWS Community,
I write following today's decision of the Supreme Court banning the use of affirmative action practices in college admissions by striking down enrollment programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina that used race as one of many factors in considering prospective students. This decision by the Court has the very concerning potential for wide-ranging consequences for all of higher education. In the days to come, campuses across the country will examine the decision in more detail and determine how to proceed.
In the meantime, make no mistake about the Colleges’ continuing commitment to an education where the makeup of the student body aligns with the world our students will go on to serve and lead. We firmly believe the teaching and learning that happens in our classrooms is enhanced by the richness of diverse backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. Educating students to lead lives of consequence demands nothing less. A diverse community is a strong community, and it is this community that provides the deeper and more impactful educational experiences that our students require and expect if they are to lead thriving and meaningful lives.
As we study the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision, please know that the Colleges will continue to achieve our educational goals and live our values while complying with today's changes in the law and any further guidance that may be forthcoming from the Department of Education in light of this decision. Hobart and William Smith remain committed to equity, inclusion and belonging. We will do all we can to ensure that deserving students continue to have access to an HWS education and that an HWS education continues to be one that embodies diverse perspectives and experiences. Since 1999, I have always prized the extraordinary faculty, staff, students, members of the Board of Trustees and alums who make up our remarkable community. For more than two centuries, the history of these Colleges has been distinguished by ever-broadening access to our transformative education. Today's decision did not alter that worthy history – nor will it mitigate our trajectory for our Third Century.
As you may know, I serve as the Chair of the New York Six – a consortium of liberal arts colleges in Upstate New York including HWS, Colgate, Hamilton, Skidmore, St. Lawrence and Union. Our joint statement issued today is included below.
Mark D. Gearan
A STATEMENT FROM THE NEW YORK SIX PRESIDENTS CONCERNING THE SUPREME COURT AFFIRMATIVE ACTION DECISION
The presidents of the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium member institutions have issued a statement regarding the United States Supreme Court decision in the affirmative action cases brought by Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. against Harvard College and the University of North Carolina. The statement reads:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling, banning the use of race, as such, as one among many factors in the evaluation of applicants for admission, contradicts a core value of higher education: creating a living and learning community that reflects diversity of thought, interests, backgrounds, and experiences. Our role as leaders and educators is to provide our students with a college experience that prepares them for the world they will enter upon graduation: a diverse, multicultural, global society.
The Court has effectively nullified 40 years of precedent, putting us in uncharted waters with more litigation certain to follow. We remain committed to the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and we will work to analyze the decision and identify the best ways to pursue our goals and missions, in keeping with our values, within the law as it now stands.
Brian W. Casey, Colgate University
David Wippman, Hamilton College
Mark D. Gearan, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Kathryn A. Morris, St. Lawrence University
Marc C. Conner, Skidmore College
David R. Harris, Union College