President Peter Salovey’s message about Yale College admissions policies
President Peter Salovey sent the following message to the Yale community on Sept. 26.
As you may know, the Department of Justice and the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education are investigating whether Yale’s undergraduate admissions policies improperly discriminate on the basis of race, particularly in regard to Asian-American applicants. This investigation takes place in the context of legal challenges at other universities aimed at overturning Supreme Court precedent permitting the consideration of race in college admissions. I write now to state unequivocally that Yale does not discriminate in admissions against Asian Americans or any other racial or ethnic group, to share information about our undergraduate admissions practices, and to affirm our unwavering commitment to diversity as a pillar of this university.
One goal of Yale’s admissions process — forged through decades of experience and review — is to create a vibrant and varied academic community in which our students interact with people of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Because our pool of applicants is extraordinarily strong, we are able to create this community while upholding the highest standards of academic achievement. Yale College could fill its entire entering class several times over with applicants who reach the 99th percentile in standardized testing and who have perfect high school grade point averages, but we do not base admission on such numbers alone. Rather, we look at the whole person when selecting whom to admit among the many thousands of highly qualified applicants. We take into consideration a multitude of factors, including their academic achievement, interests, demonstrated leadership, background, success in taking maximum advantage of their secondary school and community resources, and the likelihood that they will contribute to the Yale community and the world. This whole-person approach to admissions complies fully with all legal requirements and has been endorsed repeatedly by the Supreme Court.
Yale’s policies have resulted in an outstanding and increasingly diverse student body. The incoming Class of 2022 set several new admissions records. Eighteen percent of first-year students are the first in their families to attend a four-year college. One in five members of the Class of 2022 receives federal Pell Grants for low-income students. We are proud that first-year enrollment among students receiving Pell Grants has nearly doubled over the past six years, and first-year enrollment among first-generation college students has increased more than 75 percent during the same time.
The creation of a diverse academic community has not come at the expense of applicants of any racial or ethnic background. For example, over the past fifteen years, the number of Asian Americans has grown from less than 14 percent of the incoming first-year class to 21.7 percent in the Class of 2022.
Diversity along many different dimensions strengthens Yale’s community of learning. As part of our mission to “educate aspiring leaders worldwide who serve all sectors of society,” we strive to recruit and retain students, faculty, and staff from all backgrounds and to empower them to pursue their intellectual and professional goals. In our judgment as educators, based on experience with admissions policies at Yale dating back over fifty years—and in my own judgment and experience as a psychologist, professor, and former dean of Yale College—a diverse student body and faculty greatly enhance students’ academic experiences and maximize their future success. By bringing people of different backgrounds, talents, and perspectives together, we prepare our students for a complex and dynamic world.
I want to assure you that while Yale will cooperate fully with the inquiries conducted by the federal government, we also will vigorously defend our ability to create a diverse and excellent academic community.
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology