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Dear Rackham Community,

Earlier today, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that will severely limit the ability of universities to consider race as a factor in their admissions processes. However, the ruling does not affect the ability of universities to recruit a diverse student population using race-neutral means, which has been and will continue to be a focus of Rackham and U-M.

As university leaders noted in their message following the ruling, we have continued our work in the face of similar restrictions since 2006; the passage of Proposal 2 in Michigan that year already eliminated our use of not only race, but also sex, national origin, color, and ethnicity in admissions.

Even though we believe the effects of the Supreme Court decision on our current institutional practices will be minor, this is an important opportunity for us to reaffirm our values and remind ourselves of the hard work we do in recruiting, admitting, and matriculating a broad range of students into our graduate programs.

Rackham Graduate School has a history and tradition of valuing the diversity of our students as an essential dimension of excellence in graduate education. In addition to our recruitment efforts, we are just as committed to sustaining an environment in which members of our community feel valued and welcome so that they can pursue their goals once they arrive.

While Proposal 2 undoubtedly had an impact on the makeup of our enrollment, we have learned through experience that we can advance our institutional interests to provide access to graduate education at the University of Michigan in ways that comply with the law.

For instance, in the years since Proposal 2 passed, Rackham and its graduate programs have increasingly found that, despite the law’s restrictions, the use of holistic admissions practices supports the successful recruitment of diverse and excellent student cohorts. We have recently offered holistic admissions consultation and funding to provide tailored support to programs following our decision to discontinue the use of the GRE in doctoral admissions.

We also have worked collaboratively to expand opportunities for diverse students in graduate and professional education by strengthening pathways between U-M and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). This includes the creation of outreach and collaboration grants for projects with the long-term goal of increasing the number of MSI alumni enrolled in U-M graduate and professional programs.

Additionally, we undertook a multi-stage review of the Rackham Merit Fellowship (RMF) program, the graduate school’s largest single investment. This effort is designed to best position this prestigious fellowship for the future, and further its goal of recruiting, supporting, and graduating outstanding students who contribute to our goals of access, climate, inclusion, and diversity. The RMF program offers pathways to degree for those who are first generation, come from varied socioeconomic backgrounds, and have demonstrated commitment to advancing race and gender diversity in the United States.

While these initiatives represent strides we have made, this week’s Supreme Court decision—along with recent attempts to undermine DEI in higher education nationally—emphasize the importance of continuing to focus time and resources to promote the inclusion of diverse perspectives in graduate research and scholarship. As with the efforts described above, that work will require close collaboration among graduate faculty, staff, students, and partners across campus and beyond. The innovative and holistic measures we’ve taken as a graduate school and university community since the passage of Proposal 2 give me confidence that we will continue to make progress toward our shared goals in the wake of this week’s ruling.

As ever, I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue this work together.


Mike Solomon,

Read the U-M Key Issues Page on the Supreme Court’s Decision.