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Release: Immediate

Coleman supports importance of diversity in university admissions

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa President Mary Sue Coleman has joined with the leaders of the nation's top research universities in reaffirming strong support for continued attention to diversity in university admissions in the wake of the passage of Proposition 209 in California and the Hopwood ruling of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Association of American Universities (AAU), which consists of 62 leading North American research universities, adopted a statement in support of diversity during its annual spring meeting held in Washington, D.C., April 13-15. The statement has also been published as a three-quarter page advertisement in the April 24 national edition of the New York Times.

"I'm pleased that the AAU is taking a leadership role in supporting the issue of diversity," Coleman said. "The statement echoes the affirmation of the importance of diversity in the University of Iowa's strategic plan, which makes it clear that the opportunity to work and study in a diverse community helps prepare our students for life in a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial national and international society.

"This is especially true in Iowa," Coleman added. "While our population is relatively homogeneous, our students will be entering a more diverse work force and global economy. They are going to have to see the world in more complex ways, and the university must do its part to prepare them. We must offer them an abundance of experiences, in and out of the classroom, that encourage them to encounter, understand and respect difference."

The statement reaffirms a "commitment to diversity as a value that is central to the very concept of education in our institutions." And it strongly reaffirms "support for the continuation of admissions policies, consistent with the broad principles of equal opportunity and equal protection, that take many factors and characteristics into account -- including ethnicity, race and gender -- in selection of those individuals who will be students today, and leaders in the years to come."

"We do not advocate admitting students who cannot meet the criteria for admission to our universities," the statement says. "We do not endorse quota or 'set-asides' in admission. But we do insist that we must be able, as educators, to select those students -- from among many qualified applicants -- who will best enable our institutions to fulfill their broad educational purposes."

4/24/97