Many of you have been involved this week in an important debate about diversity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I want to again say that the university remains firmly committed to enrolling a highly diverse student body -- that means recruiting not only students from ethnic minorities, but those from rural Wisconsin, first-generation college students, women in the sciences and othergroups.
When making admissions decisions, UW-Madison uses holistic processes for undergraduate, graduate and professional schools that take into account a range of factors. University officials are confident these practices are constitutional and consistent with U.S. Supreme Court decisions that say race is a permissible factor when part of a holistic admissions process. We know that enrolling students of all cultures and backgrounds improves the learning environment at UW-Madison and prepares everyone to be competitive in an increasingly multicultural world.
In the coming weeks and months, you may hear more about this issue as the discussion moves off our campus to the state Legislature and greater Wisconsin. If a legal or legislative challenge to admissions practices at UW-Madison emerges, we are fully prepared to respond to questions and defend our processes, as we did when we faced similar scrutiny in 2007.
To students, I especially want to tell you how important all of you are to UW-Madison's vibrant academic community and, eventually, to our world-class alumni population. All of you who have been accepted are here because you are Badgers, with the ability to succeed and contribute something special to our student body. Please do not listen to anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.
If you would like to remain engaged on how we can continue to improve our efforts when it comes to diversity on campus, I encourage you to get started by attending the annual diversity forum sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate, scheduled from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at Union South.
And as we continue to discuss these issues, I want to remind everyone on campus of the importance we place on sifting and winnowing here at UW-Madison. Although we may disagree with some of those around us, we should respect differing viewpoints and not allow ourselves to be divided from within by an outside group.
September 15, 2011
From email addressed to "members of the campus community," which I received a few minutes ago: