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October 27 , 2010

Affirmative Action and Minority Enrollments in Medical and Law Schools


Affirmative action is one of the central issues of American politics today, and admission to colleges and universities has been at the center of the debate. While this issue has been discussed for years, there is very little real data on the impact of affirmative action programs on admissions to institutions of higher learning. Susan Welch and John Gruhl in this groundbreaking study look at the impact on admissions of policies developed in the wake of the United States Supreme Court's landmark 1978 Bakke decision. In Bakke, the Court legitimized the use of race as one of several factors that could be considered in admissions decisions, while forbidding the use of quotas. Opponents of affirmative action claim that because of the Bakke decision thousands of less-qualified minorities have been granted admission in preference to more qualified white students; proponents claim that without the affirmative action policies articulated in Bakke, minorities would not have made the gains they have made in higher education. Based on a survey of admissions officers for law and medical schools and national enrollment data, the authors give us the first analysis of the real impact of the Bakke decision and affirmative action programs on enrollments in medical and law schools. Admission to medical schools and law schools is much sought after and is highly competitive. In examining admissions patterns to these schools the authors are able to identify the effects of affirmative action programs and the Bakke decision in what may be the most challenging case. This book will appeal to scholars of race and gender in political science, sociology and education as well as those interested in the study of affirmative action policies. Susan Welch is Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Professor of Political Science, Pennsylvania State University. John Gruhl is Professor of Political Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
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