Moving Forward After the Supreme Court’s Decision to Limit the Use of Race in Admissions

By Suzanne T. Ortega

In June, our community received the predictable but disappointing decision from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to limit the use of race in admissions practices. After the decision was announced, CGS released a statement and said we would continue to work and support our members in finding ways to keep graduate education inclusive and accessible. Which is why we are announcing our new initiative, Supporting Equity-Minded Graduate Education in a Changing Legal Landscape, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

This initiative will bring together a group of university leaders, general counsels and researchers to advise CGS in the development of a suite of resources to support the project goals outlined below. Educational Counsel, a mission-based consulting firm will serve as our legal thought partner. Together, we will work to establish a shared understanding of what equity minded strategies and initiatives are now legally permissible.

  • The development of equity-minded graduate education resources for distribution to graduate deans, faculty and staff.
  • A series of webinars on implementing equitable practices.
  • And a communications strategy designed to promote a better understanding of the implications of the decision across key legal and educational communities.

The project comes in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2023 rulings which placed new limitations on the use of race in higher education admissions. We at CGS aim to use this project to address questions universities have about their current policies and create greater agreement about legally sound practices in graduate education.

A lack of information, or fear of the unknown, may lead some universities to unnecessarily reverse course in their efforts to support diversity, equity and inclusion. This project is designed to help graduate education leaders, general counsel, and faculty move toward a shared understanding of legally sound practice that is consistent with mission-driven goals for diversity and inclusion.

I also see this project as a critical step for supporting institutions that grant master’s and doctoral degrees, particularly since the recent court cases and the national discussion have focused mostly on undergraduate education. I hope that as universities revise their policies and practices, they consider the ways that graduate programs differ from undergraduate programs and that we can develop resources to take these differences—such as small cohort sizes, different admissions criteria and candidate review processes, and a wide variety of program goals– into account.

Visit our website for more resources on this topic and please watch your email and this newsletter for more announcements about this project and so you can be aware of our new resources and recommendations for diversity and inclusion in graduate education.


Suzanne T. Ortega