Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

National experts to explore Supreme Court, affirmative action in the 21st century

Higher education leaders and legal authorities around the country were listening closely when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last week in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case that is widely expected to result in a definitive judgment on affirmative action.

U-M's National Center for Institutional Diversity will convene a panel of national experts Thursday in the Michigan Union's Rogel Ballroom for meeting titled "The Supreme Court and Affirmative Action in the 21st Century: Michigan, Texas and Beyond."

The meeting will examine Fisher's potential impact on generations to come and its role in the extended arc of Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action in higher education, including University of California v. Bakke in 1978 and the two 2003 U-M cases, Gratz v. Bollinger (undergraduate admissions) and Grutter v. Bollinger (Law School admissions).

The panel will begin with keynote remarks by Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor, formerly chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and U-M provost and Rackham Graduate School dean. While at Michigan, Cantor was closely involved in developing the university's defense of Grutter and Gratz.

Author of numerous books, chapters and articles, Cantor focuses on the role of universities as anchor institutions in their communities, rewarding public scholarship, sustainability, liberal education and the creative campus, the status of women in the academy, and racial justice and diversity.

Panelist Gary Orfield will discuss strategies and implications for practice with regards to the Fisher case. Orfield is professor of education, law, political science and urban planning at UCLA, and also co-director of the Civil Rights Project, which he co-founded at Harvard University in 1996. The Civil Rights Project moved in 2007 to UCLA, where it was renamed the Civil Rights Project /El Proyecto de Derechos Civiles.

Author or editor of several books and reports, Orfield explores social policy, the impact of policy on equal opportunity in American society, school desegregation and the implementation of civil rights laws.

Katherine Phillips, the Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics at Columbia Business School-Columbia University, will address affirmative action and diversity in the private business sector. Before joining Columbia in 2011, Phillips was associate professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management and co-director and founder of the Center on the Science of Diversity at Northwestern University.

Phillips' research probes the value of diversity and the barriers that prevent society, organizations and work teams from benefitting from it.

Uma Jayakumar, assistant professor of leadership studies, organization and leadership program at the University of San Francisco, will address affirmative action and diversity in higher education.

Formerly an NCID postdoctoral fellow and research investigator, Jayakumar's work focuses on racial diversity and educational outcomes, campus climate and culture, college choice and access, and race and educational equity.

The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will be preceded by a continental breakfast at 7:45 a.m. Admission is free, though registration is requested. For more information go to