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Salovey: Ending Legacy Admissions “Up for Discussion”

By Lee Bolman

The Yale Daily News reported late last week that President Peter Salovey responded to a question about the future of legacy admissions at Yale during a Fall Parents’ Weekend panel discussion. “It’s up for discussion”, he said, in the first statement on the issue from a Yale official since the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year curtailing the use of affirmative action in college admissions.

“We are trying to ask, ‘Is [legacy admissions] getting in the way of diversifying our applicant pool, or is it not?’” Salovey said on the panel. “And then we will make the decision on the basis of that, rather than what the political pressure is. But the political pressure is not completely irrelevant. So we will see. Everything is up for discussion this year, in this new era of admissions. But no decision yet.”

The News reported that the percentage of legacies has been declining the last three years from 14% in the class of ’25, to 12% in the class of ’26 and 11% in the class of ’27.

Salovey said that he isn’t sure that eliminating legacy admissions would increase diversity because legacy applicants might simply be replaced by students whose parents went to a different elite college.

A number of elite universities dropped legacy admissions prior to the Supreme Court decision, including Johns Hopkins, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University and Amherst College. Wesleyan joined that group shortly after SCOTUS spoke, and many others are studying the question.

So far, no Ivy institution has announced that it will abandon legacy admissions, and Dartmouth has said it plans to retain them. Harvard’s first African-American president, Claudine Gay, has made a statement very similar to Salovey’s. “Everything is on the table,” she has said, while declining to predict where that conversation will go. “But,” she added, “I think it’s a real signal of what a watershed moment we’re facing in higher ed, that we’re thinking and having conversations at this level of expansiveness.”

Salovey is no doubt aware that this is a sensitive issue for many Yale alumni. Eliminating legacy admits would be a dramatic decision, but he might want to get it done and take the heat as a favor to his successor.

We welcome your comments below.

2 comments to Salovey: Ending Legacy Admissions “Up for Discussion”

  • Jan Greer

    Lee, I have to believe Salovey throwing himself under the bus rather than deferring that pleasure to someone else is not within his psychological makeup. If he proves me wrong, I’ll retract that statement and apologize in writing.

  • Lee Bolman


    I smiled as I read your comment because Salovey has often seemed risk-averse. But maybe he’ll feel more freedom as he gets closer to the exit.