Standing on the foundations of America’s promise of equal opportunity, our universities purport to serve as engines of social mobility and practitioners of democracy. But as acclaimed scholar and pioneering civil rights advocate Lani Guinier argues in her book, The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America, the merit systems that dictate the admissions practices of these institutions are functioning to select and privilege elite individuals rather than create learning communities geared to advance democratic societies.
In 1998, Lani Guinier became the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School. Before her Harvard appointment, she was a tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In 1993 President Clinton nominated her to be the first black woman to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.