With the Supreme Court expected to rule on affirmative action in the coming days, the role of race in college education and admissions is once again front and center. UCLA experts can provide context and discuss the possible implications of the court’s pending decisions in Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University.
What ending affirmative action could mean for college diversity
Chang’s research focuses on colleges’ diversity-related initiatives and how to apply best practices to advance students’ learning. His work was cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, one of two cases involving the use of race-sensitive admissions practices at the University of Michigan, and he submitted expert testimony in the pending case involving the University of North Carolina. Chang is a professor of education and of Asian American studies and is UCLA’s associate vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion.
Inclusion is not discrimination
Crenshaw is a distinguished professor of law and The Promise Institute Professor of Human Rights at UCLA. A founder and leader of the intellectual movement known as critical race theory, she is an expert on race and the law, structural racism and discrimination based on race, gender and class. She is executive director of the African American Policy Forum, whose #TruthBeTold campaign works to stop the bans on racial and gender justice education. Crenshaw holds a joint appointment at Columbia Law School.
Contact: To request an interview with Kimberlé Crenshaw, please call or email the UCLA media contacts.
Advancing opportunities for all students
Howard’s research addresses issues tied to race, culture, access and educational opportunity. He is the current president of the American Education Research Association, and the director of the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families, as well as the founder of UCLA Black Male Institute and faculty co-director of the Center for the Transformation of Schools.
“Representation matters,” Howard said in a UCLA Newsroom interview about teaching Black history. “It’s important for Black students to learn and understand about their contributions to this country. But it’s important for all students — regardless of their ethnic or racial backgrounds — to see themselves reflected in the larger narrative of the story of the United States, to feel seen and heard and valued as full citizens.”
The case for race-conscious education policy
Orfield is an expert on education policy, segregation and civil rights, with a focus on how policies affect equal opportunity for success in American education. He is the co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA, and the author of “The Walls Around Opportunity: The Failure of Colorblind Policy for Higher Education” (2022).
“We have to think about race in general and design policies that deal with the reality of race, not the pretense that everybody has equality and opportunity in our society, and hold people accountable for it. When we did that, we made big changes. When we stopped doing it, we allowed a steady drift into deep inequality.”
Effects of campus racial climate on academic progress and student retention
Hurtado’s research focuses on diversity and equity in higher education, campus climate, and student transition and adjustment to college. She is the special advisor to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block on Latina/o/x Issues and led the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA for over a decade. A past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, she serves on an expert advisory group for the Campaign for College Opportunity that will provide direction to campuses after the Supreme Court decision.
The false premise of race-neutral policy
Cheryl Harris is UCLA’s Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. A leading scholar in critical race theory and constitutional law, she has written extensively on race-conscious remedies, affirmative action and equality, with a particular focus on higher education. She is also vice dean of community, equality and justice at UCLA School of Law.
“Neither the country’s racial history nor the present unequal distribution of opportunity supports the view that colorblindness can secure a fair and just society. Indeed, the claim that taking account of race in policy or law is a racial preference rests on the false premise that the existing baseline of resources and power is fair, and ‘race-neutral.’ In fact, as studies across all major social institutions demonstrate, practices that appear to be race-neutral consistently reproduce racial inequality. Affirmative action is but one tool in addressing this reality.”
Origins of affirmative action in higher education
Cole is an expert and historian of higher education, examining its connections with society and the state of diversity and equity, including the origins of affirmative action. His work also looks at race, inequality, and social movements, and he is the author of “The Campus Color Line: College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom.”
How race-based policies and decisions affect Asian American students
Teranishi’s research focuses on race, ethnicity, minority-serving institutions and the stratification of college opportunity. His work has been influential in federal, state and institutional policies related to college access and affordability, and his research has been referenced in U.S. Supreme Court cases on school desegregation and affirmative action in college admissions. Teranishi is UCLA’s Morgan and Helen Chu Professor of Asian American Studies and co-director of UCLA’s Institute for Immigration, Globalization and Education.
Combating racial discrimination
Kang, an expert on implicit bias, is a UCLA distinguished professor of law and Asian American studies. He was UCLA’s founding vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion from 2015 to 2020.
“No matter what the court says about ‘diversity,’ we know that preventing the racial discrimination taking place right now remains a constitutionally compelling interest. The mind sciences have identified two important sources of such discrimination: implicit bias and identity threat. Using narrowly tailored — including sometimes race-conscious — means to counter these sources of discrimination is the best viable path forward.”
Visible and viable pathways to reflect the new majority
Strempel is the co-author of “Beyond Free College: Making Higher Education Work for 21st Century Students.” Under her leadership as dean, the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music has worked toward building deeper relationships with local community colleges, increasing outreach to historically underrepresented communities and fostering success for transfer students. Strempel chairs the UCLA Chancellor’s Council on the Arts and holds a faculty appointment at the UCLA School of Education & Information Studies.
“The only way to move the dial on systemic, intergenerational poverty at scale is through education. Higher education must strive to ameliorate the multifaceted levels of inequality baked into our society, and race-conscious admissions provides a richer learning environment for all while also reanimating and enhancing our democracy. Institutions must continue to foster both visible and viable pathways for all creative students, and we must be deeply committed to assuring the artists of today and of our future reflect the new majority: the rich diversity of the people of our state and country.”