Litigation against colleges and universities has prompted the need to re-examine the legalities of the means by which they strive for a diverse student population. Court decisions have resulted in mixed signals about the use of various types of affirmative action policies. This study' method presented an analysis of archival data to provide a clear summary of requirements that should influence admissions and compared this summary with five universities' admission policies. The research questions and the literature review are organized around the S.P.E.L. model. The social, political, economic, and legal implications of 2002-2007 affirmative action admission litigation are explored in this multiple case study. Three major conclusions were drawn: (a) the five universities use narrowly defined affirmative action criteria and include consideration of race/ethnicity or culture in their process for admitting students to their schools, (b) the universities provide some forms of economic support exclusively for students of certain ethnic or racial groups and/or socioeconomic backgrounds, and (c) the universities are in violation of the 14th Amendment in regards to their admission policies, and in addition all five universities are in conflict with state or voter approved legislation that limited or removed the use of race, gender, and ethnicity in admission programs and policies. The results section includes guidelines for improvement in admission policies and affirmative action programs in order to guide colleges and universities to a legally acceptable means of establishing diversity. This study also points the way for schools to effectively implement their diversity policies within the parameters set by law and legal precedent.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Affirmative action programs in education

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Schmieder-Ramirez, June;