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Afterword Mary Sue Coleman U The decisions of the Supreme Court in the cases involving af‹rmative action in admissions at the University of Michigan have provided us with the guidance that higher education has been seeking for decades, namely, a well-structured road map that permits all colleges and universities to create policies of af‹rmative action that more clearly articulate the goals of diversity. The University of Michigan, like many other colleges and universities, began a review of current policies almost immediately following the delivery of the decisions. But the decisions do not merely chart the course for higher education—they issue a challenge to our entire nation, a challenge to create a society in which af‹rmative action will no longer be necessary. The decisions of June 2003 are the latest iteration of a series of landmark decisions on education and civil rights that the Supreme Court has issued over the past ‹fty years. It has created large Newtonian cycles of action and reaction in the area of diversity, with three landmark decisions issued in quarter-century increments. The profound rulings on racial equality in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), and the University of Michigan cases have altered, and will continue to shape, the landscape of our universities and our society. These decisions have produced phases in the evolution of our society. The decisions themselves are just the starting point for change: the policy shifts that have occurred in between those major decisions are what have truly transformed our nation. As of June 23, 2003, we have entered the next period of transformation that will de‹ne the history of civil rights and educational access in our country. The Court issued a resounding reaf‹rmation of af‹rmative action as a compelling state interest, a policy that had been clearly articulated in the multitude of amicus briefs that were ‹led at the Supreme Court. These briefs offer vivid insight into the value of diversity to our entire society, from universities to industry to the military. While many educational institutions and organizations ‹led briefs on our behalf, the Court also received statements from major corporations, from nonpro‹t organizations, from elected of‹cials, and from retired military leaders. It is striking to see the impact of these briefs on the thinking of the Court, and the manner in which its decisions re›ect the broad concerns of many sectors of our society. The University of Michigan made a strong case for the pedagogical bene‹ts of diversity in campus communities and classrooms , but the amicus briefs made an equally strong case for the advantages of diversity in the workforce of our country. For example , General Motors conveyed the view that a diverse workforce is necessary not only for the sake of its own industry, but for the national and world economy: In General Motors’ experience, only a well educated, diverse work force, comprising people who have learned to work productively and creatively with individuals from a multitude of races and ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds, can maintain America’s competitiveness in the increasingly diverse and interconnected world economy.1 Defending diversity 190 This quest for the strength that diverse members of society can provide to an organization or community extends to cultural endeavors as well: MTVN’s [Music Television Networks’] unique mix of eclectic shows and edgy attitude was invented—and is being reinvented daily—by the most dynamic and eclectic people in the industry. This unique mix, in turn, is feeding the marketplace of ideas and shaping national and global attitudes. The future of American business and the quality of message communicated through the media “depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure to the ideas and mores” as diverse as the nation’s people.2 One of the most striking briefs ‹led in support of the University of Michigan was submitted by retired military of‹cers of the United States armed forces. Their accounts of the special situations created by the military chain of command were cited by the justices during the oral arguments of the case, and in the ‹nal Court decision in Grutter v. Bollinger. These former leaders of our armed forces dynamically articulated the problems they had faced because of the lack of diversity in the upper ranks of their organizations: The chasm between the racial composition of the of‹cer corps and the enlisted personnel undermined military effectiveness in a variety of ways...


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MARC Record
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