University of Missouri donors voiced feelings of dismay that they can no longer keep white students from applying for minority-related scholarships, according to an article Inside Higher Ed published on Thursday.

The Supreme Court of the United States struck down affirmative action for college admissions, and Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey sent a letter following the decision in June 2023 to all of Missouri’s state, public and private universities, telling them they must comply with the court’s decision. Through Bailey’s letter, the four university system’s campuses were forced to revise all racially-based scholarships, creating hostility among donors.

“Institutions in Missouri must implement the Supreme Court’s decisions immediately. In today’s rulings, the Court held that there are no legitimate reliance interests created by past rulings that seemed to bless affirmative action,” according to Bailey’s letter.

The donors of several endowments expressed their concern both on and off the record, saying they feel “betrayed” by the change, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Melinda Holmes helped endow a scholarship in honor of her father, Richard Holmes, and when she received notice that the scholarships needed revision, she was “pissed off,” according to Inside Higher Ed. The scholarship was “to further the education of medical students, particularly African-American students and those seeking to care for the under-served.”

Several of the scholarships did not have legal clauses, forcing the university to reach out and ask permission from the donors themselves, while 53 donors were unable to be reached or “disagreed” with the changes.

Doug White, a philanthropy scholar and advisor said “This has to be fought, not for political reasons but from a donor protection perspective … Once you get politics involved in how charitable funds are used, we’re really going down the wrong path,” according to Inside Higher Ed.

Financial aid awarded $12.3 million with a “race and ethnicity” component for the 2022-2023 year. The racially-based scholarships made up 2.3% of all financial aid for the school’s main Columbia campus and 6.7% for the St. Louis campus, university spokesperson and director of public affairs, Christian Basi told the Missouri Independent.

 

The University of Missouri’s Kansas City location (UMKC) offers scholarships to minority students, with some prohibiting white students from applying, according to the College Fix. The Frank Neal Willis Jr. Minority Scholarship is awarded to “undergraduate, minority students with a 3.0 GPA who also demonstrate financial need.” The Leo Long/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Scholarship is for “minority students seeking an undergraduate degree in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences who are Missouri residents and demonstrate financial need.”

While the Supreme Court changed the trajectory for affirmative action, other universities and medical schools across the country have continued the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) standards for both their admissions and graduation processes.

“There is thus no justification for Missouri institutions to “grandfather” in existing programs that disfavor applicants based on race. All Missouri programs that make admitting decisions by disfavoring individuals based on race—not just college admissions, but also scholarships, employment, law reviews, etc.—must immediately adopt race-blind standards”, said Bailey.

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