Diversity’s importance reaffirmed by Wrighton

In this memo e-mailed to the University community April 24, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton reaffirms the importance of diversity at Washington University in light of the current case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The current Supreme Court consideration of affirmative action in higher education has naturally prompted some in the Washington University community to ask about our continuing commitment to the value of diversity in our programs. Our commitment to that value is deep and longstanding. Our programs to enhance diversity work well and are in keeping with the intent and spirit of our nation’s laws.

Our experience as educators tells us that the diverse community comprising Washington University is simply one of our most vital assets. We are proud that our students are drawn from a multitude of backgrounds, from all 50 states and more than 100 countries and represent many races, ethnic groups, and intellectual interests. This stimulating mix is fundamental to the education and scholarly research that takes place here and is one we must work to sustain.

We are preparing students to live in a modern world where diversity in all its aspects is important to daily life and work. We believe that our students need to be equipped for living and working side by side with people who are not only from different parts of the nation and the world but are also from ethnic and racial groups unlike their own.

The university is one of the best possible places for this preparation to occur. In bringing together students, faculty, and staff representing different geographic origins, economic status, intellectual interests, genders, religions, nationalities, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds, we create an environment in which students learn to understand, accommodate, and incorporate many and varied points of view, a crucial skill for citizens and leaders in the 21st century. We believe that whatever progress is to be made in solving the problems confronting our global society, we can be assured that well-educated people will be key, especially those who have had experience working with others from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

As an institution, we are committed to creating and sustaining the kind of community that will make possible these essential circumstances. We remain dedicated to fostering diversity because we think it is necessary to a well-rounded educational experience. We aim to reflect and benefit from this diversity in all endeavors where members of the University community come together.

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