from Cynthia J. Lawson, Exec. Dir. Univ. Relations, TAMU (Feb. 16, 2004)
providing you the comments from Gates you requested, I thought you would want to know that I followed
up regarding the students’ decision
about the rally (per your earlier e-mail to me about the
Battalion article). I was told that the students misunderstood the intention of the rally.
Because the FCIC has some viewpoints about how diversity can best be achieved at A&M,
because those viewpoints are different from those of Dr. Gates, apparently some of the students
believed that if they supported the Diversity Rally, some might misconstrue that support as a vote of
non-support for Dr. Gates.
They clearly did not want that misperception. The fact
is… the Office of the President IS a co-sponsor of the Diversity Rally; the students are being
advised of that. Dr. Gates truly believes that while there is, no
doubt, a variety of viewpoints
as to how A&M can best achieve a more diverse campus, those differences are secondary to the purpose of
the rally itself – namely
to demonstrate the broad support for diversity at this
Having said that, the following are the specific comments you requested for
“Since assuming the presidency of Texas A&M University more than a year and a
half ago, I have made efforts to enhance diversity — diversity in both
the faculty and student
body — among my highest priorities.
I valued the recommendations of the task force
appointed to consider revising admissions and related policies. There was open and prolonged debate
about the explicit use of race as a factor in admissions, and I carefully weighed all of them.
After much thought, I decided that, for Texas A&M
University, diversity would be best accomplished
by basing admissions decisions on individual qualities — potential and merit — while accompanying
assessments with an aggressive outreach effort to attract more minority students. That effort
includes creating nearly 2,300 new socio-economically
targeted scholarships. Based on past
experience, at least half of those new scholarships likely will go to minority students — both African
Texas A&M University was the first university in the state to
appoint a cabinet-level official responsible for increasing diversity. Also, to the best of my
knowledge, Texas A&M is the only university in the state subsequent to the Michigan decision to adopt
new admissions requirements that create more opportunities for minorities. Be assured that I strongly
believe that we are doing just that — creating more opportunities for minorities.
While I did not expect all members of the campus community to agree with my decision, I
am encouraged by the amount of support this new policy has received. Because of their loyalty to this
university, many who did not support my decision are nevertheless working passionately to promote
the university’s diversity goals. This serves as evidence of the strong sense of community that
permeates this institution.
In the final analysis, each university should, in my
opinion, adopt policies and strategies that offer the best hope — and opportunity — for
minority enrollment at that specific institution. I believe we have done that at Texas
A&M University, and I am fully committed to attaining that objective.”
Robert M. Gates,
President, Texas A&M University