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Statement from Penn Law Dean Ted Ruger on recently reported comments by Professor Amy Wax

July 23, 2019

To the Penn Law Community:

Last week, Penn Law Professor Amy Wax spoke on immigration policy at the “National Conservatism” conference in Washington, D.C. After gathering more information and establishing the facts, I write now to emphasize how fundamentally the substantive views attributed to Professor Wax contravene our institutional values and policies.

Media sources have reported and since confirmed that Professor Wax advocated a national immigration policy that “[i]n effect means taking the position that our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites.” At best, the reported remarks espouse a bigoted theory of white cultural and ethnic supremacy; at worst, they are racist. Under any framing, such views are repugnant to the core values and institutional practices of both Penn Law and the University of Pennsylvania.

Past episodes have made clear that when Professor Wax speaks about race and culture, she does not speak for this institution or those who work and study here. For many years, our institutional efforts have been, and will remain with increased vigor, to build an academic community whose ethos and composition stands in direct opposition to these exclusionary views. We have made broadening access to a Penn Law education, and attracting and supporting a diverse and outstanding student body, faculty, and staff from the widest possible range of backgrounds, among our highest institutional priorities. We have produced concrete results and structural changes through our sustained efforts to this end. For instance, since 2016 we have hired 10 extraordinary tenured or tenure-track professors, half of whom are people of color and more than half are women. On the student front, when we welcome the incoming JD Class of 2022 and LLM Class of 2020, we will have the most diverse and accomplished student body in the history of the Law School.

I know these statements by Professor Wax have caused pain and outrage to many in the Penn community. My colleagues and I pledge to work with you so that together we can heal, and learn from this experience and each other. That students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds are flourishing at this school and in their subsequent careers is an unassailable rebuke to those who question their full participation in our academic enterprise and our nation.

To all of the alumni, students, and others who have shared your concerns and advice on these matters, I appreciate the engagement and concern you have shown. My colleagues and I learn much from you and are grateful to work together with you even when — indeed, especially when — you are speaking critically and challenging us to do better at meeting the ideals that are central to our mission. Our diversity makes us a better law school.

We are training lawyers to shape the legal profession and the law of the future, which we are committed to making more just and inclusive than what has come before. Please join with us in this effort.


Ted Ruger

Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law