Tennessee Higher Ed Desegregation Case Comes to an End - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

Tennessee Higher Ed Desegregation Case Comes to an End

Email


by Diverse staff and wire reports


Tennessee Higher Ed Desegregation Case Comes to an End
Officials say diversity programs will continue.

NASHVILLE, Tenn.
A court-ordered agreement to increase racial diversity at Tennessee colleges and universities is coming to an end, although higher education officials say they will continue the diversity programs it required.

Gov. Phil Bredesen announced last month that Tennessee, the federal government and the state’s higher education agencies have agreed to seek dismissal of the 1968 lawsuit after parties agreed that the state had made sufficient progress.

The agreement stems from a lawsuit filed by Rita Sanders Geier, then an instructor at historically Black Tennessee State University. She challenged the state’s “dual system” of higher education for minorities.

After one settlement failed in 1984, a federal judge approved a new one in 2001, which became the Geier Consent Decree. If the required goals were met, the litigation was to end.

“Today, I’m proud to announce that Tennessee has met the challenge set by the Geier lawsuit — to build a unitary public higher education system that truly offers equal access to all citizens,” said Bredesen. “Now, we’ll ask a judge to recognize something that we’ve long felt in our hearts … in Tennessee, the door really is open to all.”

The decree required Tennessee spend $75 million over 10 years to help public colleges and universities diversify their student bodies, faculties and staffs.

Dr. Richard G. Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, says the decree has been “tremendously important and successful” and that its provisions will be continued.
According to Bredesen, the state is committed to supporting diversity programs born from the lawsuit, as well as other initiatives to promote college enrollment and graduation among under-represented students.
“In some ways, this journey is ended — we are concluding this lawsuit, and people are no longer barred from attending colleges and universities because of the color of their skin,” Bredesen said. “But in other ways, this journey stretches far out before us and won’t be complete until we remove every kind of barrier that stands in the way of any Tennessean’s dream to earn a college education.”

Higher education officials told the state’s Fiscal Review Committee last year that the directives were being met.

To meet those directives, the state had to complete measurement studies of Black students, establish minority and nontraditional scholarship programs and establish pre-doctoral fellowship programs at various institutions.

Of the universities overseen by the Tennessee Board of Regents, Black enrollment rose from 17.8 percent in 1984 to 23.5 percent in 2005. In the University of Tennessee system, enrollment increased from 7.9 percent to 11.6 percent.

Attorney George E. Barrett, who filed the original lawsuit, says he’s satisfied with the accomplishments of the decree. “The main objective was to get rid of the vestiges of segregation,” he says, “and I believe the state has done that.”

Diverse staff and wire reports



© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com

RELATED ARTICLES >>
How Faculty of Color Hurt Their Careers Helping Universities with Diversity With more than one-third of the nation’s college students being people of color, there’s increased pressure for universities and colleges to foster a more inclusive learning environment. Prompting protests from students and higher education advocates...
DOJ Affirmative Action Investigation Unprecedented, Experts Say News that the Department of Justice has threatened to sue Harvard University if it fails to turn over applicant records, has raised new concerns about the future of affirmative action. It appears that the Department of Justice is persisting in its...
New Questions in NSSE Survey Spark Important Conversations A topical module around inclusiveness and engagement with cultural diversity debuted in this year’s NSSE survey, and the results prompted discussions around teaching practices. Every year since 2000, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSS...
Professor Apologizes for Fiery Response to Muslim Student CINCINNATI — A University of Cincinnati music teacher has apologized for his fiery online responses to a Muslim student who was critical of Donald Trump’s presidency and talked about celebrating freedom and diversity. College-Conservatory of Music...
Semantic Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *