President Bollinger on Diversity in Education


As president of the University of Michigan, Bollinger led the school’s historic litigation in Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger. These Supreme Court decisions that upheld and clarified the importance of diversity as a compelling justification for affirmative action in higher education were reaffirmed in the Court’s 2016 ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas. He speaks and writes frequently about the value of racial, cultural, and socio-economic diversity to American society through opinion columns, media interviews, and public appearances around the country.

President Bollinger reflects on the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.


Affirmative Action Isn’t Just a Legal Issue. It’s Also a Historical One.

The New York Times, June 24, 2016

The Supreme Court’s decision this week in Fisher v. University of Texas is a profound relief, and a cause for celebration among those of us in higher education who have long insisted that affirmative action is vital to our schools’ missions and to society as a whole.

What Once Was Lost Must Now Be Found: Rediscovering an Affirmative Action Jurisprudence Informed by the Reality of Race in America

Harvard Law Review Forum, April 12, 2016

This academic year has seen college and university students across America calling on their institutions to do more to create campus cultures supportive of African American students and other underrepresented minorities. There have been demands to increase faculty and student diversity, change curricular requirements, and adopt mandatory cultural sensitivity trainings.  

Sixty Years Later, We Need a New Brown

The New Yorker, May 16, 2014

Sixty years ago this Saturday, on May 17, 1954, a unanimous Supreme Court held that state segregation of black schoolchildren was unconstitutional. Brown v. Board of Education marked a signal moment in American history—not only constitutional history.

A Long, Slow Drift from Racial Justice

The New York Times, June 24, 2013

The Supreme Court has again upheld the principles behind race-conscious affirmative action, no small feat for the cause of diversity in higher education. But in framing the issue very technically, it has, wittingly or not, continued its drift away from the ideals it advanced in the civil rights era, beginning with Brown v. Board of Education...


School integration, Barnard School, Washington, D.C., 1955.



Keynote Address at University of Rochester 2014 Diversity Conference

March 28, 2014

President Lee C. Bollinger gave the keynote address at the University of Rochester’s annual Diversity Conference. | WATCH

Educational Equity and Quality: Brown and Rodriguez and Their Aftermath

November 3, 2003

In May, we observe an important fiftieth anniversary. I am not referring to Roger Bannister’s running the first sub-four-minute mile on May 6. I am referring, of course, to Brown v. the Board of Education, which was handed down eleven days later. 

"America’s race problem was centuries in the making and is far from solved. This is not the moment for reversing our collective progress by limiting the ability of institutions of higher education to achieve racial diversity along with class diversity, and other forms as well."

Lee C. Bollinger, "The Real Mismatch," Slate