UT Pres. Powers Says Affirmative Action Helps Provide A "Diverse Campus"

Apr 23, 2014

*Correction: The quotes from President Powers were made to reporters on April 9 at the Civil Rights Summit. They were not made as a reaction to the SCOTUS ruling on the case. This story has been edited accordingly.

This week the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the State of Michigan’s decision that bans colleges and universities from using any type of affirmative action for admissions.

Speaking to reporters at the Civil Rights Summit in Austin on April 9, University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers took questions about the Michigan case and why affirmative action is important.

"It is critical to give opportunity to all groups in our state and our country, but it’s equally critical to make sure that that education experience has to be on a diverse campus. And not just a diverse campus but in diverse individual classrooms,” Powers said.

Powers said diversity isn’t simply defined by race.

"I define diversity in a number of ways: cultural, economic, points-of-view from religious to political and ethnic and racial diversity," Powers said.

Powers also said that in order for colleges to achieve diversity, there must be a huge outreach effort that informs all of these groups of students about the opportunities that lie ahead.  

UT is in a federal affirmative action challenge as well, in a case that was brought by Abigail Fisher, who is white and was turned down for admission. The Supreme Court sent the Fisher case back to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, calling for more evidence from both sides.