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Larry Summers Calls For Overhauling University Admissions To Prioritize Opportunity Over Diversity

Former Treasury Secretary recommends eliminating legacy admissions, expanding transfer student intake

Last month, the Supreme Court effectively scrapped affirmative action in universities. On Friday, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers offered his take in an interview with Bloomberg.

Larry Summers testified before the Senate Finance Committees confirmation hearing to be Treasury Secretary. (DOUGLAS GRAHAM/CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY/GETTY IMAGES) 

During the interview, Summers noted that, while diversity is important, what is more important is that every American has an opportunity and that no one has limited access to such opportunity based on their race and background.

“We’re all very complex people. Our perspectives are not primarily the product of our race,” said the economist, explaining that any given perspective is the totality of life experiences that one has had.

Summers said that, if he were to advise any university in its goal of providing opportunities for everyone to excel, he would start by eliminating legacy admissions and admissions for people who play sports.

Referring to students who are extensively coached for the SATs or their college application essays, the economist said he would ensure that credit wasn’t given for whatever parents’ money can buy.

Additionally, Summers said he would think hard about expanding the size of the institution’s incoming class.

Finally, the economist emphasized that he would focus on what the institution could do to contribute to public education and better opportunities before students apply to college. In this regard, he recommended admitting more transfer students.

“If these schools admitted more transfer students, inevitably they would find themselves drawing from a wider range of society,” said Summers.

The economist also shed light on how equity in university admissions can be measured. He suggested that looking at leading institutions, including hospitals, schools, law firms, companies and businesses, to see if they have leaders who came from a much broader swath of society.

Summers said he would also look at how public school students perform compared to students from other countries on standardized international tests.

“The battle for America’s future will be won or lost in America’s public schools,” he said, adding that, just as any great company pays huge attention to its supplier network, America’s great universities need to pay attention to public schools around the country.

“And we haven’t really cracked the problem of public education in the United States. And perhaps, we can get some new ideas, get some new infusions of talent, get some opening up if this is a challenge that our great universities are more prepared to take on,” said Summers.

This comes at a time when President Joe Biden announced to have 804,000 borrowers wiped out their student loans after a defeated in the Supreme Court in the student loan forgiveness. Over $39 billion was distributed to students who attended universities.

Produced in association with Benzinga

Edited by and

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