June 29, 2023
Dear members of the SLU community:
Today, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision striking down race-based admissions practices at Harvard and the University of North Carolina.
As we review this decision and reflect on the disappointment and pain it may cause, we return to the heart of our mission. SLU’s mission and the spiritual and intellectual ideals of the Society of Jesus call us to envision and to create a society that reflects the values of the gospels. Through our teaching, research, service and community engagement, we strive to contribute to a world in which all people can thrive as whole persons.
As reflected in the amici curiae brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by 57 Catholic colleges and universities – SLU among them – we believe that “the inclusion of students with diverse backgrounds and diverse racial identities advances not only the academic mission but also the religious mission of Catholic institutions of higher learning.” As a Catholic, Jesuit university, we have a distinctive, mission-driven commitment to promoting justice and the common good.
We are analyzing today’s ruling carefully and will ensure that our practices align with the law. We also remain resolute in our commitment to SLU’s Catholic, Jesuit values – and in our commitment to creating an inclusive and equitable University.
We will continue our work to expand access to Jesuit higher education. Each year for the past three years, we have admitted first-year undergraduate classes that are the most diverse in SLU’s history – in terms of many factors, including race. We also continue to serve increasing numbers of Pell-eligible and first-generation students. We have achieved these outcomes using evidence-based strategies and without using the race conscious admissions practices that today’s ruling restricts.
We will continue to implement strategies and practices that create a rich and engaging educational environment, preparing our graduates to serve effectively in multicultural and global contexts and contribute to a more just world.
As we sustain our commitment to expanding opportunity, we must also ensure that every student who walks through SLU’s arches knows that they belong, and that they are valued. We each have a critical role to play in these efforts. Together, we will remain steadfast in our aspiration to be a community grounded in compassion, committed to justice, and working toward wholeness.
Higher purpose. Greater good.
Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.
Michael Lewis, Ph.D.