Announcement Regarding Admissions Working Group

August 23, 2023

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,

As we prepare for a new academic year, I write to update you on next steps as we move forward following the Supreme Court’s decision with respect to affirmative action and admissions.

First, I want to acknowledge Columbia’s extraordinary commitment over many years to creating a diverse learning environment that reflects our world and benefits everyone at this great university. For decades, this commitment has transformed lives and opened opportunities for countless students. We should all take great pride in the vibrant community that Columbia has become because of the diversity of backgrounds and views that is represented in our classrooms, labs, dormitories, and gathering places. We are of course conducting all admissions policies and practices in compliance with the law, while upholding the values that have made Columbia a great place to learn, advance knowledge, and contribute to society.

In that spirit, I have asked Interim Provost Dennis Mitchell to lead a working group that includes the three undergraduate deans and other graduate and professional school deans to undertake a high-level review of current admissions policies. While admissions policies are made at the school level, this University-level focus will allow us to share information and insights and to learn from each other as we adjust to the new landscape. Dennis’s working group began meeting in August and will issue a set of recommendations by December.

Separately, I have asked experts from across the University to examine existing pipeline and pathway programs and to think about ways we might alter or expand these programs to reach more potential students. One particular focus will be local opportunities. To the greatest extent possible, we want to welcome students from local public high schools, community colleges, and other public institutions into our undergraduate and professional schools.

As we move forward, we will draw on our own deep scholarly expertise in inequality and social mobility and learn from the many institutions both in the U.S. and abroad that operate without affirmative action. It will take time for us to develop and refine this new approach. But I promise a sustained commitment, including securing the resources necessary for meaningful impact, to ensure Columbia remains a beacon for generations of future students. What I have outlined today is a first step, and you will hear more from me and others as the work advances.


Minouche Shafik
President, Columbia University in the City of New York