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Geier lawsuit update

Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Charles Manning issued a memorandum Sept. 26 on the dismissal of the Geier v. Bredesen lawsuit.

I am pleased to report that our system of higher education is now officially declared a unitary system, he said in the letter to TBR presidents and directors.
Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Charles Manning issued a memorandum Sept. 26 on the dismissal of the Geier v. Bredesen lawsuit.

“I am pleased to report that our system of higher education is now officially declared a unitary system,” he said in the letter to TBR presidents and directors.

“The ending of the lawsuit does not end our commitment to the principles of Geier,” Manning said. “As we transition from our Geier programs to the initiatives we will pursue in our efforts to increase access and diversity, we should be mindful of the steps we have already taken.”
Manning noted the significance of the lawsuit.

“This is a very important time in the history of public higher education in Tennessee,” he said. “We are embarking on new ground with the ability to reach out to all groups that are under-represented in our institutions, building on the substantial progress we have made pursuant to the Geier litigation.”

The 38-year-old Geier lawsuit was dismissed Sept. 21 by Judge Thomas Wiseman.
In her 1968 suit, Rita Sanders Geier claimed the state was maintaining a segregated system of higher education because of funding inequities between Tennessee State University, the state's historically black university, and other state schools. Geier was a faculty member at TSU, which was still known at the time as Tennessee A&I.

In 1984 the courts entered a stipulation of settlement, providing a guide for equitable funding and access. The parties entered into a consent decree in 2001 that stated the litigation would end after five years if the state fulfilled its obligations.

For many years, graduate programs at MTSU and Austin Peay State University were limited by the 1984 stipulations. The 2001 consent decree allowed MTSU to add a number of doctoral programs.