UW–Madison responds to attacks on diversity efforts

Sept. 13, 2011

The University of Wisconsin–Madison strongly reaffirms its commitment to the value of enrolling a highly diverse student body, which creates a vibrant academic community as well as alumni who are fully engaged in the global marketplace.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, the Center for Equal Opportunity attacked the University of Wisconsin-Madison for its diversity efforts. University officials have not yet had an opportunity to analyze all of CEO's data and claims.

When it comes to admissions, UW–Madison employs a holistic, competitive and selective process for undergraduate, graduate and professional schools. That process takes into account a range of factors, including grades, standardized test scores, recommendations, extracurricular activities, leadership and written statements.

UW–Madison's approach is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in the Michigan affirmative action cases that say race is a permissible factor in consideration of holistic admissions.

"Any student who is accepted at UW-Madison is here because he or she has the potential and the capacity to succeed," says UW–Madison Interim Chancellor David Ward. "No matter what a student's class rank or test scores were, students who are accepted qualify for a spot at this university. No one is admitted solely because of race or ethnicity."

Admissions director Adele Brumfield, who is in her second year at UW–Madison, says her mission is to recruit a high-quality and diverse freshman class. This includes recruiting students from groups that are underrepresented at UW–Madison, including not only ethnic minorities, but international students, those from rural Wisconsin, first-generation college students and women in sciences.

"While holistic in our admissions, there are certain parameters and high standards that must be met," Brumfield says. "We stand behind our process, which is continually refined and enhanced, to admit classes that are both diverse and meritorious."

Damon Williams, UW–Madison's chief diversity officer and vice provost for diversity and climate, says the presence of diversity in all of its forms helps to create the type of learning environment needed to prepare students for a diverse and interconnected world.

"We believe deeply in what we are doing at the university and every student has the potential and the academic profile to be successful at UW–Madison," Williams says. "The commentary offered by CEO fails to recognize this point and that the presence of social diversity enhances the excellence of our institution in so many ways."

Associated Students of Madison Chair Allie Gardner added "we are a land-grant institution that is founded in serving the public of Wisconsin. Thus, we cannot only ensure that accessibility is equal, but that it is equitable. We do not need to defend this, but we do need to defend our university from influence and pressure from outsider organizations that do not have the best interests of our students, our university or our state in mind."