Chancellor's Communique

SCOTUS Decision on Affirmative Action, 6-29-23


Dear students, faculty and staff,

Our goal at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is to improve the health of our communities by training the next generation of healthcare providers, advancing knowledge to provide better prevention and therapies, and providing excellent care to all patients, many of whom are the sickest and most complicated. To fulfill these missions, our campus is committed to strengthening the diversity of the workforce of healthcare professionals who serve everyone in our community. We remain dedicated to our efforts to include and support students, faculty and staff of all backgrounds here.

We are disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court decision to prohibit the limited consideration of an applicant’s racial or ethnic background in the higher education admissions process at universities across the country. The decision sets back efforts to remedy disparities in healthcare by constraining whom we can admit as future physicians, researchers, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, public health leaders, and other healthcare professionals serving our community. Limiting the ability of universities to address inequities hurts all of us and is particularly harmful to those who need help the most.

There is ample evidence of disparities in healthcare outcomes. The Association of American Medical Colleges has cataloged examples, including studies that show: 

  • Black and Hispanic children with heart conditions are more likely to die than their white counterparts.
  • Black men are twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men.
  • A Black mother is up to four times more likely than a white mother to die from childbirth-related complications.
  • Black and Hispanic Americans were roughly twice as likely as their white counterparts to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. The outcomes for American Indians and Alaska Natives were even worse.

We know that these communities are medically underserved. A 2015 Senate report found that “minority health professionals are more likely to serve in areas with high rates of uninsured and areas of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.” We also know that diverse healthcare teams contribute to better health outcomes and patient satisfaction for underserved communities. 

It is therefore our responsibility to establish pathways to our health professional programs that include students from varied backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. Fostering diversity in multiple dimensions, including racial and ethnic, in the health professions — spanning classrooms, labs and clinical settings — enriches the educational experiences of all medical and health professions students. Inclusion also enhances teaching experiences of faculty, cultivates an innovation mindset on campus, spurs creativity and discovery, and supports complex problem-solving.

We will continue to pursue all available avenues to bring a CU Anschutz education into reach for deserving students who enrich our university and strengthen our ability to improve healthcare for all. For the talented applicants who seek to join the healthcare profession, we can do better. For the health of everyone who depends on us for care, we must do better.


Donald M. Elliman

John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
Dean, School of Medicine


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