A message from the chancellor: Diversity is essential to our democracy

"To honor the University charter’s charge to 'prepare a rising generation' for the responsibilities of democracy, we must ensure our graduates are ready to embrace this country’s remarkable pluralism."

The exterior of South Building.
(Photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel HIll)

Dear Carolina Community,

It is easy to think that the issues we face every day are specific and unique to Chapel Hill. Yet around our nation, colleges and universities are facing some of the same issues we do. Last week, I gathered with fellow university presidents and chancellors for the Association of American Universities fall conference, and what struck me was our similarities. We had powerful discussions around protecting critical technologies, free speech and safety, issues that are front and center on our campus and every campus across the country. I left those meetings with a greater realization of the many opportunities we have before us – to ensure our place as the leading global public research university in the country.

On Monday morning, Carolina will be in the national spotlight, representing all of higher education in arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court that diversity on campus is essential for educating American citizens. We are making that case not only for UNC-Chapel Hill, but for the thousands of colleges and universities that have worked for decades to provide the opportunity of higher education to all Americans who want to go to college.

Supreme Court justices are weighing whether campuses may continue to use race as one factor among many in admissions decisions. The plaintiff, a private organization, asked the court to overturn that long-standing precedent.

I wrote a guest opinion column for The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer published this weekend about the major implications of this case for our nation and Carolina. I hope you will take a moment to read it.

To honor the University charter’s charge to “prepare a rising generation” for the responsibilities of democracy, we must ensure our graduates are ready to embrace this country’s remarkable pluralism. At Carolina, we are building better citizens, and if we remove race as one of the many factors we consider in admission decisions, we jeopardize that effort. Our students are preparing to enter diverse workforces, and if they do not have experience on group projects, or in their dorm rooms, with people who have different perspectives and life experiences, they will fall short of their potential. As one of our students so eloquently put it at a recent event, “the diversity of my fellow classmates breathed life into the classroom and the curriculum.”

I am en route to Washington, D.C., with our lawyers to continue preparing for tomorrow’s courtroom session. I encourage you to visit our website devoted to this case, admissionslawsuit.unc.edu. We will keep you informed about future developments.


Kevin M. Guskiewicz