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Aug. 25, 2004

U-M diversity exhibit goes on the road

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A new exhibit from the University of Michigan about diversity and the affirmative action lawsuits will hit the road next month. The exhibit, titled, "A Case About Diversity: The Affirmative Action Lawsuits at the University of Michigan," will visit communities throughout the state this fall and into 2005.


Photos above and below show portions of the original award-winning exhibit, "Views and Voices." Photo: U-M Photo Services

The traveling exhibit is based on "Views and Voices" the original, award-winning exhibit displayed on campus in the James and Anne Duderstadt Center on the University's North Campus. The multi-media exhibit featured photo images, many by Marcia Ledford of U-M Photo Services, as well as extensive interpretative material designed to present both sides of the cases. The exhibit followed the historic U.S. Supreme Court decisions in two affirmative action lawsuits brought against the University. One case was brought by two undergraduate applicants and the other by a Law School applicant. The plaintiffs maintained that they were discriminated against because the University considers race as one of many factors in the admissions process.  

The exhibit has now been re-designed as a traveling educational presentation aimed at a general audience by students from the Museum Studies Program and the School of Art and Design, supervised by Dennis Miller, associate professor, School of Art and Design. They conducted audience surveys as a means of determining whether or not the story being told by the original exhibit was clear, appropriate and accessible. Based on this feedback, faculty and students from the School of Art and Design produced the new version of the exhibit. The exhibit's panels depict the history of diversity at the University leading to the affirmative action cases, and actions taken by the University to ensure and expand diversity on campus. They also place the U-M lawsuits in a national, historical context.

Photo: U-M Photo Services


So far, the exhibit is booked for eight locations, beginning with Dearborn and Lansing for the month of September. The other scheduled locations are Grand Rapids, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Flint and Marquette. The exhibit will also have a short run in Chicago at a meeting of the College Board in October. Most of the exhibit venues are public libraries.

In both of the affirmative action cases the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the principle that gives colleges and universities the freedom to consider race as one of many factors in admissions decisions. The Law School admissions process was upheld in its entirety. In the undergraduate case, the Court found that the University's admissions process, which used a point system to help select students, was not narrowly tailored to achieve the goal of diversity and therefore was unconstitutional, insofar as a specific number of points was awarded to members of particular minority groups. As a result, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions developed a new process that involves a more individualized, holistic review and does not use points.

"A Case About Diversity" will be on display at the Mardigian Library on the campus of the University of Michigan-Dearborn Wed. Sept. 1 through Monday Sept. 27.

A companion exhibit will open at the Capital Area District Library in Lansing on Fri. Sept. 3, on display through Wed. Sept. 29.

The exhibit is organized by the University of Michigan and funded in part by the Ford Foundation, Butzel Long and the University of Michigan.

Contact: Joel Seguine
Phone: (734) 936-6396
E-mail: jseguine@umich.edu