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


by Diverse staff and wire reports

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

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.”

Related:  California College Students Brace for State Budget Cuts

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

Strategic Partnerships Opening Doors to Study Abroad for Disadvantaged In order to increase and diversify the number of American students who study abroad, K-12 educators, nonprofits and universities must pursue strategic partnerships to reach students from diverse backgrounds while they are still in high school. Tha...
Harvard Students Lead Sit-in to Back Striking Dining Workers CAMBRIDGE, Mass. ― Students at Harvard University are staging a campus sit-in to support the school's striking cafeteria workers. Dozens of students walked out of classes on Monday and marched to a nearby building where Harvard officials and a lab...
Immigration Status Serves as Barrier for Some Students SANTA FE, N.M. ― Some students say they’re losing out despite a New Mexico law that allows them in-state tuition at public colleges or universities and state-funded financial aid regardless of their immigration status. The law has been in effect f...
South African Student Leader Injured in Protest JOHANNESBURG ― The student council at a leading South African university says a student leader was hit multiple times in the back by police rubber bullets during a protest for free education. The council at the University of the Witwatersrand in J...
Semantic Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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