GW Leadership Reacts to Supreme Court Ruling on Race-Conscious Admissions in Higher Education

In statements to the university community, GW leaders expressed disappointment with the opinion and reiterated the benefits of a diverse student body in higher education. 

June 29, 2023

George Washington statue on the GW campus with flowers in the foreground

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that using racial considerations in admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution, a decision that will impact the way that colleges and universities in the United States select their students. In response, George Washington University President Mark S. Wrighton and President-elect Ellen M. Granberg released a joint statement to the university community expressing their disappointment in the court’s ruling, strongly reaffirming GW’s commitment to inclusive excellence and reiterating the educational benefits of a diverse student body.

More than a dozen members of GW leadership have issued their own statements in response to the ruling, below:

"The GW Board of Trustees is disappointed by the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court; however, the Board is committed to maintaining diversity as a core value of our university and fully supports the views shared by President Wrighton and President-elect Granberg in their message to the community. GW educates and trains the next generation of leaders, and we affirm the university's efforts to foster a diverse student body and further inclusive excellence, while operating within the law. This is critical work not only because it enables our university to fulfill its academic mission but also because it helps our students flourish, maximizing their ability to effect change here on campus and beyond."

Grace Speights
Chair of the George Washington University Board of Trustees


“I am deeply disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to restrict the full consideration of race in university admissions practices—both as provost of GW and as a constitutional lawyer. It is through cultivating a diverse academic community that GW is able to fulfill our mission to train future leaders of the world and conduct and disseminate impactful research. Our students, faculty and staff are challenged and strengthened in all areas of our university through thoughtful engagement with myriad experiences and perspectives. The court’s ruling creates a new impediment to our ability to foster academic excellence, provide a well-rounded student experience and prepare our students to be leaders of a rapidly changing world. Nevertheless, as a university, we remain steadfastly committed to strengthening diversity, equity and inclusion as critical aspects of our important work as a preeminent global research university.”

Christopher Alan Bracey


“The Elliott School of International Affairs embraces the statement from GW President Mark Wrighton and President-elect Ellen Granberg. To their words we would only offer that the multipolar world before us creates an international affairs landscape even more complex than in the past. Our mission to educate the next generation of international leaders, to conduct research that advances important global issues, and to engage the policy community in the United States and around the world requires us to be aware of all that the world has to offer, in all its diversity. Preparing diverse students to be leaders for the world demands nothing less.”

Alyssa Ayres
Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs


“In response to the Supreme Court decision on the use of race as a factor in admissions criteria, we continue to affirm the critical importance of representation in the health care workforce to optimize the quality of care we provide to our patients and communities. Our GW SMHS and GW Medical Faculty Associates commitments to eliminate health disparities and improve health outcomes are founded on our ability to expand the cohort of learners who are currently underrepresented in health and medicine. While we are disappointed with this decision, we remain steadfast in our mission and will work diligently to achieve the goal of equity in health care despite the new challenges presented by this ruling today.”

Barbara L. Bass
Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences


“Today the Supreme Court has changed course and, in so doing, posed a daunting challenge to all educators and leaders who continue to believe in the moral, economic, and educational value of diversity and equity. By ruling in favor of plaintiffs in the two concurrent suits brought against Harvard and the University of North Carolina, the court has essentially prohibited the explicit inclusion of racial identity as an acceptable factor in selective admissions decisions. Leaving aside what will surely be a continuing debate on the moral and legal legitimacy of these rulings, our path must be clearly illuminated by the bright lights of social progress, and we must now reassert our commitment to fairness, justice and the pursuit of genuine equality of opportunity.”

Michael Feuer
Dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development


"The faculty and staff at GWSPH are committed to encouraging a diverse pool of candidates to apply to our school and, as in the past, to apply a holistic approach to admissions based, in part, on prior work, educational attainment and personal lived experiences relevant to public health. We will also continue to deliver a strong portfolio of programs rooted in efforts to address social and environmental determinants of health, including race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, food insecurity and adverse environmental exposures that negatively impact health across the lifespan."

Lynn Goldman
Dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health


“The nursing profession has been working for decades to diversify its workforce to reflect the communities it serves. This is important because health outcomes are better and patient satisfaction levels higher when they have access to providers who reflect their own race, ethnicity, gender identity and cultural background. This ruling has the potential to impact schools’ abilities to maintain diverse student populations, and it is troubling because we know that students from marginalized backgrounds often face barriers due to structural racism and other factors that make pursuing and completing an advanced degree more difficult.”

Jean E. Johnson
Interim Dean of the School of Nursing


“Despite this ruling, we are not dissuaded from our focus and our goals. We will continue to reaffirm the value of diversity, celebrate the contributions of every member of our community, and ensure that all voices are around the table as we innovate solutions for the grand challenges we face as a society—including and especially how we can create a better and more just world for all.”

John Lach
Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science


“Today’s decision significantly narrows the existing law on which law schools around the nation have based their admissions policies for nearly half a century. I therefore join the George Washington University President Mark Wrighton and President-elect Ellen Granberg in expressing disappointment in this decision. Of course, I also join their commitment to follow this new legal standard. Importantly, this decision is consistent with our commitment to ensuring that all of our student body and indeed our entire community remains vibrantly diverse in every respect.”

Dayna Bowen Matthew
Dean of GW Law


“The GW School of Business remains focused on advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in business education. We will strive to continue to attract a diverse body of students, faculty and staff and promote an experience that creates a sense of belonging for all. As a school that has received national recognition for the diversity of students in our academic programs, we have witnessed how it has benefited us and enriched our experiences in the GWSB community. We remain steadfast in ensuring that our learning environment is consistent with our core values in enhancing access to higher education and opportunities for our current and prospective students.”

Anuj Mehrotra
Dean of the School of Business


“Studies have shown that diverse teams make the most impactful contributions in research and scholarship. The ability to solve the world’s most pressing challenges depends on our ability to lift up and engage the full spectrum of perspectives and lived experiences. History is littered with examples of scientific outcomes that failed to account for a diverse population, including racial differences, because the relevant voices were not at the table. The U.S. Supreme Court’s disappointing decision must reinvigorate our commitment to equitable access and advancement in the scholarly enterprise.”

Pamela Norris
Vice Provost for Research


“Our motto is e pluribus unum, or ‘out of many, one.’ We believe that our diverse and supportive community of students, alumni, faculty, staff and strategic partners catalyzes innovation, empowering our community to drive meaningful change in their respective professions and industries. The GW College of Professional Studies remains steadfastly committed to ensuring that a diverse group of voices continue to be represented and included in our learning community.”

Liesl Riddle
Dean of the College of Professional Studies


“Many in the Columbian College community found the Supreme Court's university admissions decision to be disappointing. In its wake, I want to reaffirm our commitment to do all we can to cultivate and support a diverse, equitable and inclusive community for our students, faculty and staff. Diversity is essential to the liberal arts educational experience, We, as an institution, benefit from diverse perspectives, and CCAS has an unwavering commitment to providing our students with that experience. We will continue to work with our chairs and directors, as well as the CCAS Diversity Equity Council, to enhance curricular inclusivity, foster diversity and facilitate an engaged and welcoming learning environment.”

Paul Wahlbeck
Dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences