Dear Members of the USF Community,
The United States Supreme Court’s disappointing decision this morning on two closely watched cases involving affirmative action policies in college admissions is eliciting questions and concerns in our own community, in the larger higher education community, and across the nation. As expected, the court struck down race-based admissions considerations at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, saying that those programs violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
The rationale invoked in the majority opinion leaves open how future admissions policies will be shaped and raises the possibility of legal challenges.
Along with our colleagues in Jesuit higher education, USF is reviewing this complex decision and looking beyond the headlines to determine any possible impact on our established practices and programs.
While this study continues, I want the USF community — as well as our future students, their families, counselors, and teachers — to understand clearly USF’s commitment to hold true to our Catholic identity and Jesuit mission. The Catholic Church is a global communion of Churches from a wide diversity of cultures, languages, and customs in respectful dialogue and cooperation with the other world faith traditions.
USF will continue to build and foster a community of learners who represent the broad diversity of humanity that God has created and the common human dignity that God has bestowed on all. As individual members of the USF community, we may hold different viewpoints and have different life experiences. We identify ourselves as unique beings whose race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, academic and artistic accomplishments, and interests are woven together into the whole person that each of us is and is becoming. Diversity, equity, and inclusion at USF are rooted in our mission to seek and find the work of God in all places, all persons, and all cultures. As a Jesuit university, guided by our recent Mission Priority Examen, we are charged with proposing the social doctrine of the Church that seeks to infuse every human community with God’s peace, justice, and love.
I am so proud of the ingenuity, generosity, and magnanimity of USF faculty, librarians, and staff who have worked to bring us to where we are today, a beloved community, united in our diversity, empowered and inspired by that diversity to offer a transformative educational journey for our students.
Please know that USF administrators and faculty, colleagues at other Jesuit universities, and our regional and national education associations are actively following the repercussions of the court’s decision and proactively devising legal pathways forward for us to pursue our mission. I will report back to you with updates as we know more. At USF, we will continue to use every tool consistent with the law to build and sustain a vibrant, diverse, inclusive, and equitable community.
Thank you for all you do for USF and each other.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.