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Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, the first case the Court has taken up in a decade on the use of race in higher education admissions. The case has generated ninety-two amicus briefs, one of the highest totals for any Supreme Court case in history. The Court is expected to issue a ruling in the high-stakes case that restricts racial preferences more sharply than its 2003 rulings in Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger. As opposed to 2003, many of the arguments in the current affirmative action debate focus not on the competition between races for spots at an elite school, but on whether racial preferences actually benefit their recipients.

On September 21, the Governance Studies program at Brookings hosted a half-day conference examining new research on the actual effects of racial preferences upon students. Do racial preferences help more blacks and Hispanics become scientists and engineers, or do they push students away from STEM majors? Do they tend to increase or decrease minority graduation rates? How do they affect student learning? Did California’s ban on racial preferences in the 1990s change enrollments by black and Hispanic students or affect their grades and graduation rates?

After each panel, participants took audience questions.

Event Agenda

  • 8:45 am - Welcome and Introduction

  • 9:00 am - Empirical Inference and the Effects of Admissions Preferences

    • Moderator

      Glenn Loury

      Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Economics

      Brown University

    • Kala Krishna

      Liberal Arts Research Professor, Department of Economics

      Penn State University

    • Veronica Robles


      Inter-American Development Bank

    • E. Douglass Williams

      Wilson Chair of Economics

      Sewanee: The University of the South

    • Kate Antonovics

      Lecturer, Economics

      UC San Diego

  • 10:30 am - The Phenomenon of “Science Mismatch”

    • Moderator

      Richard Sander

      Professor of Law


    • Peter Arcidiacono

      Professor of Economics

      Duke University

    • Frederick Smyth

      Research Assistant Professor, Psychology

      University of Virginia

    • Marc Luppino


      Federal Trade Commission

  • 12:00pm - Luncheon Roundtable: Research, Preferences Reform, and Fisher v. University of Texas

    • Richard Kahlenberg

      Senior Fellow

      The Century Foundation

    • Glenn Loury

      Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Economics

      Brown University

    • Peter Schmidt

      Senior Writer

      Chronicle of Higher Education

    • Phillip Richards

      Professor of English

      Colgate University


September 21, 2012

8:45 AM - 1:45 PM EDT

Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW


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