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President to President

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President to President
Molly Corbett Broad's weekly email newsletter to higher education leaders.

Back in Business

October 14-18, 2013 ~ Vol. 14, No. 33

  • Back in Business 
  • Supreme Court Hears Case Seeking Reversal of Michigan Ban on Considering Race in College Admissions 
  • Nominations Now Open for ACE Annual Meeting Awards ​

The 16-day standoff over funding the federal government finally ended late Wednesday night, with Congress approving a bill authorizing current spending levels through Jan. 15 and raising the debt ceiling through Feb. 7. 

President Obama promptly signed the bill into law, restoring the flow of funds to students and academic researchers (although, as this Politico story points out, research projects could continue to be impacted for the foreseeable future). Department of Education staff and other furloughed federal employees returned to work Thursday. Most significantly, the measure prevents a national default that could have caused a dramatic increase in student loan interest rates and spending on student aid and research to dry up.

The legislation provides only a temporary reprieve, setting the stage for another showdown early next year. We will discuss these fiscal issues and more—including the president’s proposed college ratings system and the pending reauthorization of the Higher Education Act—at ACE’s 96th Annual Meeting, scheduled for March 8-11, 2014, in San Diego. 

Meanwhile at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, justices heard the second of two recent cases dealing with the consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions decisions, this one a challenge to Michigan’s ban on such considerations at public higher education institutions.

In the case—Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action—a coalition of groups has challenged the Michigan ban, which voters approved in 2006 as an amendment to the state constitution. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down the ban last year, ruling that it violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, which mandates that states must apply their laws equally to all individuals and groups of people.

Schuette follows closely on the heels of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (UT). The court issued a decision in Fisher in June, reaffirming the notion that diversity on college campuses offers unique educational benefits to students and is a compelling government interest. Our main concern in the Schuette case, as we argued in the amicus brief we submitted in August, is that the court recognize and continue its Fisher holding. We are hopeful our message was heard. As in Fisher, Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself from Schuette (having worked on the case in her former role as solicitor general), so the remaining eight justices will make the decision.

As you may remember, the court sent Fisher back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to reexamine the constitutionality of UT’s admissions process. We are in the process of once again preparing an amicus brief in support of UT, which is due next month.

We are now accepting nominations for four of the awards that will be presented at ACE’s Annual Meeting next year

The nominations deadline for the ACE/Fidelity Investments Award for Institutional Transformation is Nov. 1, and the deadline for submission of complete applications is 5 p.m. EDT on Nov. 20. Nominations for both the 2014 Donna Shavlik Award and the 2014 Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award will be accepted until Dec. 2. Finally, the deadline for the 2014 ACE State Network Leadership Award is Dec. 16.

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE​​​