Go back

Austin Peay State University: After Geier

BY SHERRY HOPPE
APSU PRESIDENT

The end of Tennessees 38-year Geier desegregation case this fall brought to a close one of the most divisive periods in state history. On Sept. 21, 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Tom Wiseman dismissed the case, declaring that Tennessees higher education system is no longer racially segregated.

But is the end really the end at Austin Peay State University? No. Were just entering a new phase in our commitment to increase educational opportunities for all Tennesseans, regardless of race, class, age, gender or income. BY SHERRY HOPPE
APSU PRESIDENT

The end of Tennessee's 38-year Geier desegregation case this fall brought to a close one of the most divisive periods in state history. On Sept. 21, 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Tom Wiseman dismissed the case, declaring that Tennessee's higher education system is no longer racially segregated.

But is the end really the end at Austin Peay State University? No. We're just entering a new phase in our commitment to increase educational opportunities for all Tennesseans, regardless of race, class, age, gender or income.

In Fall 2005, 18 percent of all APSU students were African-American. African-American student enrollment at APSU increased more than 15 percent between 1995-2005. In the shorter term, between 2000-2005, it increased almost 20 percent.

We've more than succeeded in meeting our goals under Geier, but will we rest on our laurels? To the contrary, we pledge to continue to press forward in the spirit of Geier as we work to recruit and retain African-American students.

These past 38 years under Geier have taught us many lessons regarding the personal and societal advantages of providing access to higher education for all our citizens, especially those who historically had been underserved by our institutions. As a campus community, we learned:

*Diversity at APSU is critical in providing a full educational experience and a solid preparation for life.

*Rapidly increasing globalization means our state's success in attracting and keeping business and industry requires a work force that is comfortable with diversity.

*Since Tennessee must have an educated work force if it is to remain competitive economically in the global marketplace, the overall well-being of Tennessee hinges on every citizen having equal access to higher education.

*Although we have enjoyed success in recruiting African-American students, it's equally important that we retain these students until they graduate with the degrees needed to succeed in life.

At Austin Peay, we willingly accept our moral obligation to reach out to all citizens, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, financial need or family background. To that end, we are developing new programs and incentives that will enrich all students' educational experience through diversity.