Canton Repository

June 24, 2003

Ohio State may change preferences plan

Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON -- Ohio State University almost certainly will have to make changes in its affirmative-action programs to comply with two landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions issued Monday, officials said.

OSU officials applauded the general thrust of the high court’s rulings, which they said will allow them to remain fully committed to diversity.

Kent State University does not expect its affirmative-action programs to be affected by the court’s action, while the University of Akron was unsure.

At Ohio State, attorneys were still reviewing the separate rulings on affirmative-action programs at the University of Michigan and its law school.

“We will live by the decision and make any adjustments that are essential,” OSU President Karen A. Holbrook said. “We still have to look at the decision much more closely to determine how it will change if it changes at all.”

The Supreme Court struck down the point system that favors minorities who apply to the undergraduate program at Michigan. But it let stand efforts to recruit minorities at the law school, where points are not assigned on the basis of race.

Like the University of Michigan, Ohio State assigns points to minority applicants at the undergraduate level but not at the law school.

At OSU, every applicant needs 139 points to gain admission, spokeswoman Elizabeth Conlisk said. The majority of points are awarded for academic achievement in high school. Ohio State grants 25 points to minorities and recruited athletes. The school assigns 15 points for leadership and up to 20 points for additional course work.

Minority applicants get 20 points at the University of Michigan.

Despite the use of affirmative action, Holbrook said 70 percent of students at Ohio State gain admission solely on the basic of academic merit. Admissions officials consider economic status and race among other criteria in reviewing the applications of the other 30 percent.

At the university’s Moritz College of Law, Dean Nancy H. Rogers was unsure if changes would be required in the affirmative-action program.

“We continue to have a firm commitment to promoting diversity,” said Rogers, who was encouraged by the court ruling.

Kent State looks for minorities and others who will make the university more diverse but does not use a point system or quotas, spokesman Ron Kirksey said.

“From what we can tell, there’s no impact at all,” he said.

Attorneys at the University of Akron were away at a conference and had not had a chance to review the possible effect of the decision on the university and its law school, spokesman Bruce Vernyi said.

Stark State College of Technology is “an open-access institution,” said Para Jones, vice president for advancement and student services. “Our basic philosophy is that all students have the right to enroll and get an education.”

Some fields, such as some health majors, have prerequisite course and performance requirements, “but so far, we’ve been able to accommodate all of our students with classroom space.”

With growing enrollment, space is Stark State’s only limitation, and construction of the new W.R. Timken IT Building will help that, she said.