Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger: A Case Study

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Patrick Pauken


The purpose of this study was to understand why the affirmative action university admissions legal cases of Gratz v. Bollinger (2003) and Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) took place at the University of Michigan and to analyze the cases to understand the legal implications for the University of Michigan and the nation. The study provides insight and understanding in the rationale of the University of Michigan’s unique history with race and its historical desire and need to defend diversity. This study chronicles the historical events and legal precedents that led to, and coincided with, the major events at the University of Michigan and at the Supreme Court. This study reviews and analyzes the Supreme Court cases of Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger and their importance to policy making and implementation at colleges and universities. This study begins by outlining the relevant historical events that shaped the perception of race and affirmative action in the United States. It provides the reader with various federal policies and social movements that shaped civil rights legislation and provides an historical context of race, education and the law. It is intended as a primer to better understand the law “behind” Gratz and Grutter and to introduce the reader to the history of affirmative action in university admissions. In order to provide the reader with the rationale for the motivation of the University of Michigan to become involved in the case, a brief history of three events at the University of Michigan—the admission of women, the Black Action Movements, and the Michigan Mandate—and the resulting policy decisions are examined. The study moves on to describe the events leading to the litigation and will examine both Grutter and Gratz. This research does more than retrace the history of race and affirmative action; it explores the link between past events and contemporary public policy.