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Dr. Juan E. Gilbert – Modern Day Affirmative Action: Computing Race and Gender Conscious Admissions in the 21st Century

Monday, November 17, 2008
3:30 pm


Sherrerd Hall, 3rd floor open space
Princeton, NJ 08544 United States + Google Map

In 2003, two land mark cases challenged the University of Michigan admissions policies, one focused on Law School admission and the other on undergraduate admissions. In Grutter v. Bollinger, the case focused on the Law School, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the Law School. However, in the Gratz v. Bollinger, by a vote of 6-3, the Court reversed, in part, the University’s undergraduate admission’s policy to provide points for race/ethnicity. Therefore, the Court decided that race could be considered in admission’s decision, but could not be the deciding factor. Later, Michigan residents voted to adopt a ban on racial and gender preferences through Proposal 2. In 2007, the Supreme Court heard two cases on race-conscious school placement policies in Louisville and Seattle. The court struck down the programs in Louisville and Seattle. In all of these cases, it is clear that racial and gender preferences are either over or on their way out. However, the need to diversify still exists, as explained by the courts and researchers. How can institutions achieve diversity without giving preference to race, gender, etc? In an effort to address these issues, a data mining tool called Applications Quest was developed by Dr. Juan E. Gilbert.

Applications Quest allows the use of race/ethnicity, gender or any other attributes to be considered in admissions, school assignments, employee hiring or any other application processing area, such that no preferences are given to race or gender.


Dr. Juan E. Gilbert is the T-SYS Distinguished Associate Professor in the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department and a Fellow in the Center for Governmental Services at Auburn University where he directs the Human-Centered Computing (HCC) Lab. Dr. Gilbert has research projects in spoken language systems, advanced learning technologies, usability and accessibility, Ethnocomputing (Culturally Relevant Computing) and databases/data mining. He has published more than 60 articles, given more than 100 talks and obtained more than $4 million dollars in research funding in his eight years at Auburn University. In 2002, Dr. Gilbert was named one of the nation’s top African-American Scholars by Diverse Issues in Higher Education. He was recently named a national role model by Minority Access Inc. At Auburn University, Dr. Gilbert has been honored with the Auburn University Alumni Engineering Council Junior Faculty Research Award, Auburn University Alumni Outstanding Minority Achievement Award and the Auburn University Distinguished Diversity Researcher Award. He is also a National Associate of the National Research Council of the National Academies, an ACM Distinguished Speaker and a Senior Member of the IEEE Computer Society. Recently, Dr. Gilbert was name the Pioneer of the Year by the National Society of Black Engineers and he received the Black Data Processing Association (BDPA) Epsilon Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution. Dr. Gilbert recently testified before the Congress on the Bipartisan Electronic Voting Reform Act of 2008 for his innovative work in electronic voting. In 2006, Dr. Gilbert was honored with a mural painting in New York City by City Year New York, a non-profit organization that unites a diverse group of 17 to 24 year-old young people for a year of full-time, rigorous community service, leadership development, and civic engagement.

Sponsored by: Department of Electrical Engineering/Computer Engineering, the Center for Information Technology Policy and Microsoft

Hosts: Prof. Margaret Martonosi and Prof. Edward W. Felten