The Supreme Court’s decision on race-conscious admissions

June 29, 2023

Dear Campus Community,

This morning, the United States Supreme Court ruled that colleges and universities can no longer consider an applicant’s race when evaluating their application for admission. Through its decision, the Supreme Court has profoundly undercut the ability of colleges and universities to educate today’s students most effectively.

We learn best from exposure to difference, including racial differences. That exposure breaks down assumptions and stereotypes. It encourages us to look at issues from new perspectives. Especially given the increasingly segregated communities in which we live—both geographically and online—college is often the first time that students have meaningful exposure to people whose backgrounds and life experiences differ from their own. This exposure to humanity’s difference is one of the most important educational benefits of a college experience, and it’s a view not unique to Gettysburg College. As seen by the broad support for race-conscious admissions, it is also one held across higher education and supported by nearly 50 years of experience since the Supreme Court’s landmark Bakke decision.

By making it harder for institutions of higher education to admit a racially diverse student body, the Supreme Court has diminished the education of every student—of every race and every background. I spoke in more depth about these issues in an op-ed that appeared in The Hill last year.

What the Decision Means for Gettysburg College

Let me be clear: every student on this campus was admitted to Gettysburg College as a direct result of their talents and the promise we see in them to shape our world for the better. To our students: you have worked exceptionally hard to be here. You are deserving. You belong.

Although the Supreme Court’s ruling on race-conscious admissions will undoubtedly make it more difficult for Gettysburg College and many institutions across the country, please know that Gettysburg College will do everything within the law to ensure that every student, from every background, continues to benefit from the vibrant educational environment a diverse student body provides.

Personal Note of Reflection

Prior to joining the Gettysburg College community, I served as Deputy to the President and General Counsel at Harvard. I had direct supervisory responsibility over the trial involving Harvard that, together with the case against the University of North Carolina, is the subject of today’s decision.

For me, the defense of Harvard’s admissions practice was one of deep principle and passion. Race-conscious admissions is a powerful and effective tool that supports our democracy and economy. It allows students too often on the margins of American life to experience the social, cultural, and economic transformation that higher education makes possible. It opens the path to leadership for those students—and for society to benefit from their voices and life experiences. Today’s decision makes achieving all of this more difficult.

As Gettysburgians, we often reflect on Lincoln’s charge of us to advance the “unfinished work” of our time. The Supreme Court’s ruling is yet another example of how this work remains unfinished.

We each have a responsibility to do our part to rise to Lincoln’s call. To step forward and champion what is right. Although I am deeply saddened by today’s ruling, I remain hopeful. I am hopeful in the tomorrow our students will build for this nation and our world—and I look forward to working with each of you to bring this future to fruition.


Bob Iuliano