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Tienda to discuss equity and higher education access, March 3

Princeton sociologist Marta Tienda will present the third and final talk in this year's President's Lecture Series on Wednesday, March 3. She will discuss "Equity and Access to Higher Education: Lessons From Texas" at 4:30 p.m. in 101 Friend Center. The series was initiated by President Tilghman in 2001 to bring together faculty members from different disciplines.

Tienda, the Maurice P. During '22 Professor of Demographic Studies and professor of sociology and public affairs, will draw lessons from her research evaluating the consequences of the Texas top 10 percent plan that guaranteed seniors who graduated in the top decile of their class admission to their public university of choice.

"Philosophically, affirmative action in higher education is a principle of fairness that recognizes a need to equalize opportunities in an unequal society; practically, it requires a compromise between the principles of democratic inclusion and meritocracy," Tienda said. "Despite the recent Supreme Court decision permitting narrowly tailored consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions, this principle remains controversial."

High levels of social and economic inequality coupled with growing population diversity pose ever more formidable challenges for promoting equity in access to higher education, according to Tienda. She will illustrate how these tensions play out with and without race-sensitive admissions using the Texas top 10 percent policy as a case study.

"This bold experiment attempted to equalize the higher education playing field by providing access using a single criterion of merit applied uniformly across high schools," Tienda said. "However, it has become as controversial as the use of race-sensitive admissions, albeit for different reasons."

Contact: Lauren Robinson-Brown (609) 258-3601

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