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Supreme Court Decision

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

Today, the Supreme Court delivered its decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College. The Court held that Harvard College’s admissions system does not comply with the principles of the equal protection clause embodied in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The Court also ruled that colleges and universities may consider in admissions decisions “an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.” We will certainly comply with the Court’s decision.

We write today to reaffirm the fundamental principle that deep and transformative teaching, learning, and research depend upon a community comprising people of many backgrounds, perspectives, and lived experiences. That principle is as true and important today as it was yesterday. So too are the abiding values that have enabled us—and every great educational institution—to pursue the high calling of educating creative thinkers and bold leaders, of deepening human knowledge, and of promoting progress, justice, and human flourishing.

We affirm that:

  • Because the teaching, learning, research, and creativity that bring progress and change require debate and disagreement, diversity and difference are essential to academic excellence.
  • To prepare leaders for a complex world, Harvard must admit and educate a student body whose members reflect, and have lived, multiple facets of human experience. No part of what makes us who we are could ever be irrelevant.
  • Harvard must always be a place of opportunity, a place whose doors remain open to those to whom they had long been closed, a place where many will have the chance to live dreams their parents or grandparents could not have dreamed.

For almost a decade, Harvard has vigorously defended an admissions system that, as two federal courts ruled, fully complied with longstanding precedent. In the weeks and months ahead, drawing on the talent and expertise of our Harvard community, we will determine how to preserve, consistent with the Court’s new precedent, our essential values.

The heart of our extraordinary institution is its people. Harvard will continue to be a vibrant community whose members come from all walks of life, all over the world. To our students, faculty, staff, researchers, and alumni—past, present, and future—who call Harvard your home, please know that you are, and always will be, Harvard. Your remarkable contributions to our community and the world drive Harvard’s distinction. Nothing today has changed that.


Lawrence S. Bacow
President, Harvard University

Alan M. Garber
Provost, Harvard University

Meredith Weenick
Executive Vice President, Harvard University

Claudine Gay
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
President-elect, Harvard University

Tomiko Brown-Nagin
Dean, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Nancy Coleman
Dean, Division of Continuing Education and University Extension

George Q. Daley
Dean, Harvard Medical School

Srikant Datar
Dean, Harvard Business School

Emma Dench
Dean, Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Francis J. Doyle III
Dean, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Douglas Elmendorf
Dean, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

William V. Giannobile
Dean, Harvard School of Dental Medicine

David N. Hempton
Dean, Harvard Divinity School

Rakesh Khurana
Dean, Harvard College

Bridget Terry Long
Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Education

John F. Manning
Dean, Harvard Law School

Sarah M. Whiting
Dean, Graduate School of Design

Michelle A. Williams
Dean, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health