Bronze statue of justice as woman blindfolded holding scales

Gardner Institute Response to the Supreme Court Ruling Students for Fair Admissions, INC. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College

Response from Drew Koch, CEO

June 29, 2023

Today, the Supreme Court struck down nearly sixty years of policy and practice used by U.S. colleges and universities to address systemic racial inequalities that exist in postsecondary admissions. My Gardner Institute colleagues and I are deeply troubled by this ruling and its implications. 

As a child of immigrants and a parent of three immigrant children, lived experience has taught me about the opportunities that are afforded to those who can attend college. I also know first-hand about dreams unjustly denied and human potential squandered for those who cannot.

As a historian, I know that our nation’s race-based sins of the past manifest themselves in the present; and I know that, if left unrecognized and unaddressed, these contemporary manifestations will have harmful implications for the future. As Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson articulated in her dissent to the ruling, “deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.” 

My studies in history have also taught me that legislatures, presidents, and, yes, even Supreme Court justices do not always get it right. When this occurs, people are not without recourse. We still have the power to advance truth and justice.

Recognizing our agency, my Gardner Institute colleagues and I will continuously strive to advance our organization’s equity and social justice mission through what we do and how we do it.

With great persistence, we will work as if the future of our democratic republic depends on what we do with colleges and universities to eliminate race, income, and zip code as the best predictors of student success. 

Because it does. 

We will act as if all students in our multiracial and varied socioeconomic nation have a right to learn from and with each other in college – especially students from Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and Native Pacific Island / Hawaiian backgrounds. 

Because they do.

Despite today’s ruling, the Gardner Institute will not waver in its efforts to make the nation’s high ideals a reality through higher education access and success for all communities and all people.   

In resolute commitment to transforming postsecondary institutions, and supporting the diverse students those institutions should serve,


Andrew K. Koch, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

Gardner Institute 


Response from John N. Gardner, Founder and Executive Chair

As a proud American citizen and Veteran, I honor and abide by the Constitution of the United States, including the rulings of our Supreme Court.

 As part of the liberties guaranteed to us all as part of our Bill of Rights, I want to add that I am professionally and personally dismayed by the Court’s ruling announced on June 29, 2023, limiting the role of Affirmative Action in college and university admissions. 

Most importantly, with respect to the work that I, personally, am able to do as part of the Gardner Institute, which is an extension of the professional work of my entire 56-year career, I am resolved more than ever to continue to support the contributions we can and will make towards the success and opportunities for ALL college and university students, here and globally.

I am especially resolved to continue my advocacy for efforts to advance those students who have been least advantaged by our society in terms of family income, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, and differing abilities’ status. I invite all my fellow kindred souls to maintain their resolve in pursuit of social justice for all.


John N. Gardner 

Founder and Executive Chair

John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Host of Office Hours with John Gardner

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