A federal lawsuit challenging Harvard University’s affirmative action policies is about to go to trial, with the Justice Department backing claims of plaintiffs who say the university is discriminating against Asian-American applicants.

At one level, the case is only about Harvard, but the university’s policies are similar to those of many other institutions with competitive admissions — so a defeat for the university could set legal precedents far beyond Cambridge.

Against that backdrop, Drew Faust, in her last month as Harvard’s president, on Tuesday sent the campus a message pledging that the university would vigorously defend its policies. (Lawrence Bacow, who will succeed Faust, has also pledged to defend the university’s diversity efforts.)…

Inside Higher Ed