U.S. Supreme Court Decision on the Use of Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education

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We write today to share our disappointment in the Supreme Court’s decision that removes the ability for our Office of Admission to consider race and ethnicity in its admission decisions. Admission decisions at Harvey Mudd have always been made holistically, with a commitment to consider each candidate as an individual with their own lived experiences, perspectives, strengths and challenges. A student’s racial identity, along with their sex, gender, socioeconomic background and many other characteristics, are of course key aspects of who a student becomes and how they are viewed by the world. Ideally, our Office of Admission would be able to consider all of these aspects of a student’s identity, along with their academic resources and preparation, in determining who will thrive in Harvey Mudd’s collaborative and interdisciplinary community. This decision does not in any way alter the College’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. 

The Harvey Mudd College community has, for the last several decades, been actively engaged in improving diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in STEM. We have seen the disproportionate impact of our efforts, not just on our campus, but also on college, university and high school campuses across the country and around the world as a result of sharing the lessons we have learned and pedagogies we have developed in key STEM fields. Since its founding, Harvey Mudd College’s mission has been to educate students in STEM fields and in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts so that they may become leaders who understand the impact of their work on society. We believe that we cannot truly embody our mission or have the greatest impact possible unless we also are committed to working for greater diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging on our campus and in the world. 

In recent years, Harvey Mudd has received a great deal of recognition for its success in diversifying its student body. Over the past 15 years, the College has moved from 30% female students in 2006 to 50% in 2022 (as well as graduating majority female classes in CS, engineering and physics during that time); from under 1% Black or African American to 7%; and from 5% Hispanic to over 20%. The classes that have entered the College in the last few years have been the most diverse in the College’s history. The HMC Class of 2026 includes 10.5% international students, 20.2% first-generation students and 36.1% of the class is underrepresented minority students. Like several classes that have come before, the HMC class of 2026 has just over 50% of the class that identifies as female, still a rarity for STEM-based institutions. In addition to improving representation among students, the College also has seen success in recruiting more diverse faculty members. In the last five years, half of the tenure-track faculty we hired were women, and at least one-third were members of historically underrepresented groups.

If we are to develop solutions to the many challenges facing the world today, we believe that society needs leaders who understand many different perspectives and who have many varied life experiences. A more diverse student body and faculty brings a range of distinct perspectives and life experiences to the classroom, which we believe leads to more creative and innovative thinking. It also helps to prepare students for success in a global world, where appreciating and navigating cultural differences is so critical. By educating our students in this type of environment, they can more easily develop key critical thinking skills, cross-cultural competencies and empathy toward others. This is particularly important in the STEM fields where advances in technology in areas such as artificial intelligence, medicine, engineering, mathematics and the sciences can positively or negatively impact large groups of our society.

While we are deeply disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today, we are more committed than ever to our mission to prepare leaders who understand the impact of their work on society—all of society—and we rededicate ourselves to working within the boundaries of this decision to ensure that we can maintain a diverse and thriving community of future leaders eager to find solutions to the challenges facing our world. Society deserves nothing less from us.


Maria Klawe
President, Harvey Mudd College