Boalt Alumni Pledge to Aid
Minority Students

by Gretchen Kell

Chancellor Berdahl has applauded the resolve of the Boalt Hall Alumni Association's board of directors to preserve diversity at the law school.

Among other actions, the alumni group has offered to help raise funds for independent scholarships for minorities and to offer summer jobs at law firms in an effort to improve the ability of Boalt Hall to attract minority students.

Boalt Hall experienced a sharp drop in minority enrollment this year now that affirmative action can no longer be used in admissions.

Calling the racial composition of the entering law school class "discouraging and unacceptable to the entire Boalt community," the 52-member board, comprised mainly of partners in major law firms, recently voted overwhelmingly to carry out this commitment with specific actions permissible by law.

"This is precisely the kind of effort we need from the private sector to help preserve a diverse student body both at the law school and on campus," said Berdahl. "The private sector can help in ways that we can't."

Boalt Hall Dean Herma Hill Kay was equally enthusiastic in embracing the effort.

"I welcome this action by the Boalt Hall Alumni Association in support of continuing the proud tradition of excellence through diversity that began at Boalt Hall in the late 1960s," said Kay.

The alumni board's proposed actions include raising non-governmental financial support for minority students admitted to Boalt, consulting with faculty and administrators on feasible admissions criteria and procedures that would promote diversity, establishing a program to encourage under-represented minority students admitted to Boalt Hall to enroll there, and providing summer employment opportunities for minority students at the law school.

Berdahl added that this is the first pledge of support for this purpose from the law school's alumni.

The board of directors is a diverse group of attorneys primarily from California but also from states as distant as New York and the District of Columbia. Among them are judges, law firm partners, government attorneys and corporate counsel.
The board, in its resolution, said it is "unfair to blame Boalt and its faculty for complying with an unequivocal mandate of the Board of Regents."

While the law school administrators, who complied fully with Regental policy, expected the race-neutral mandate to produce a drop this fall in minority student enrollment, they were shocked to enroll a class with no Native Americans and fewer African-Americans, Chicanos and Latinos than any of its entering classes since the mid-1960s.



Copyright 1997, The Regents of the University of California.
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