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Release: Immediate

Conference on future of affirmative action to be at UI Oct. 30-31

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The future of affirmative action policies and how they will continue to affect universities and workplaces nationwide is the topic of "A Conference on the Future of Affirmative Action" set to take place at the University of Iowa Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30-31.

A 9:30 a.m. welcome will begin the event which will be followed by five one-hour sessions from 10:30 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. Oct. 30 in the Gold Room of Oakdale Hall at the UI's Oakdale Campus.

A roundtable discussion will close the conference at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 31 on the main campus at the Pappajohn Business Administration Building, Room C125.

Attendance at the conference is free to the public, but advance reservations are suggested.

Nationally known legal researchers and affirmative action scholars will explore the state of affirmative action and what future legal and innovative changes in affirmative action policies people nationwide are likely to see, says Kevin T. Leicht, associate professor of sociology at the UI and a conference organizer.

"The conference is one of several at the (Obermann) Center that have presented research findings relevant to matters of current concern, especially as they relate to educational practice and policy," says Jay Semel, director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and a department co-sponsor.

"The general public might be especially interested in the roundtable panel discussion. The panel promises to offer thoughtful exchange on this often controversial subject," Semel says.

Leicht is editor of "Research in Social Stratification and Mobility," a leading publisher on social inequality. He says the conference's goals are two-fold:

"We want to give industry, academic leaders and UI administrators new ideas on how to think of affirmative action. We want to give researchers new ideas on exploring affirmative action policy," Leicht says.

The panel of experts will engage in discussion in four areas:
-- What could be changed about affirmative action.
-- Creating alternatives to circumvent the roll-back of affirmative action at public universities nationwide.
-- Discussing policy-based solutions to reduce tensions among proponents and opponents of the policy.
-- Legal remedies to increase employer compliance with equal opportunity laws.

Among those appearing on the panel is Teresa Sullivan, vice president and dean of the graduate school at the University of Texas-Austin. Sullivan will present a paper on university admissions in a post-affirmative action era.

Sullivan helped draft a ten percent rule created as a result of the Hopwood v. Texas lawsuit which barred the University of Texas law school from considering race in admitting students and determining financial aid at any schools in the University of Texas System.

The rule determined that the state would admit Texas high school students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class, and in effect the state would garner the same ratio of ethnic minorities prior to the Hopwood lawsuit challenging the system's admission policies.

William Bielby, University of California-Santa Barbara professor of sociology, will present a paper on the post-Proposition 209 era. Bielby was an expert witness on the measure California voters approved last year that prohibits state and local agencies and public colleges from using preferences based on race and gender.

Others authorities on the policy who will present papers at the conference are:
Barbara Bader Aldave, St. Mary's University (San Antonio, Texas) professor of law, Lauren Edelman, University of California-Berkley associate professor of law and policy studies, Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, North Carolina State University professor of sociology. From the UI: Susan Mask, director of affirmative action, Nick Pederiana, sociology graduate student, Frank Schmidt, College of Business professor of management and organizations, Robin Stryker, professor of sociology.

The Obermann Center, the Center for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies, the office of the vice president for research, the UI's sociology department, and the UI College of Law are co-sponsoring the conference.

To reserve a seat for the Oct. 30-31 sessions, call Kevin Leicht at (319) 335-2492.