The Department of Education held the National Summit on Equal Opportunity in Higher Education in Washington, DC, on July 26, bringing together leaders from the Biden administration and higher education institutions, as well as researchers, advocates, and students.
The summit addressed the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling against race-conscious admissions and explored innovative methods for institutions to continue to promote diversity and equal opportunity in higher education following the ruling.
Secretary of Education Miguel A. Cardona expressed concerns about the ruling's potential impact on diversity at colleges and universities. He emphasized the urgency of enacting comprehensive changes, including increasing financial aid accessibility, expanding recruitment initiatives, and enhancing the transfer process for students, to preserve the benefits of diversity. He also recommended enrolling more students who are eligible for Pell Grants.
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon emphasized that lawful pursuit of diversity in admissions is still possible. She urged admissions officers to keep using holistic evaluations.
Other strategies include recruiting students from low-income households through academic enrichment programs, implementing direct admissions, hosting students on campus to generate interest, and streamlining the transfer process for community college students to four-year institutions.
Additionally, there was a comprehensive discussion about the widespread misconceptions and false information surrounding diversity programs in higher education. Speakers emphasized the need to establish public spaces where these narratives could be appropriately challenged.
In addition, forthcoming guidance from the Departments of Justice and Education is expected to greatly assist institutions in promoting fair access to all students. NACUBO will continue to monitor and report on guidance for institutions.