Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Philo Hutcheson - Co-Chair

Second Advisor

Benjamin Baez - Co-Chair

Third Advisor

Jeffrey Rupp

Fourth Advisor

Sheryl Gowen


Minority enrollments at selective colleges and universities have historically been low. Affirmative action programs have been a primary driver for increasing enrollments. These programs were called into question in the Grutter and Gratz US Supreme Court cases (2003). The Court’s opinions in these cases provide direction for institutions in setting admissions policy. Using a qualitative methodology, this study examined the University of Georgia’s response to the Grutter and Gratz Supreme Court decisions. The study utilized data from interviews with UGA officials, as well as documentary evidence, to chronologically reconstruct the actions that UGA initiated following the Grutter and Gratz decisions. The study utilized a narrative analytic approach to analyze UGA rationale for its action. It assessed officials’ statements to identify dominant narratives related to the use of race in admissions at UGA. This study positioned the dominant narratives of officials’ relative to competing understandings of admissions, race and the law extracted from the scholarly literature. A metanarrative was developed to highlight commonly held assumptions in the debate around the use of race in higher education admissions. The metanarrative was found to be a useful tool for managing competing perspectives in efforts to develop viable policy approaches for admissions in the future. The study is important in at least two ways: 1) it explains sources of conflict in the affirmative action debate and 2) it suggests the usefulness of narrative policy analysis for policy making related to race, diversity, and admissions in higher education.