An event designed to help make Tennessee’s
college campuses more inviting to African American faculty and administrators will be hosted by Tennessee Tech University from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 14, in Derryberry Auditorium.
“A Geier Forum,” a free event open to the public, will offer topics related to how faculty, administrators and the community can contribute to creating a more inviting climate for African Americans in higher education. Other topics will focus on how African Americans can pursue success in Tennessee’s higher education system.
“We are presenting this forum to expose the spirit of Geier to the Tennessee Board of Regents’ system, our university and our community,” said Francis Otuonye, TTU’s associate vice president of research and graduate studies.
Otuonye, along with TTU Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Leo McGee and Vice President for Student Affairs Marc Burnett, created the forum in response to a request for proposals supporting the consent decree that ended the 32-year litigation of the Geier lawsuit.
In 1968 when the University of Tennessee announced plans to expand its presence in Nashville, Rita Sanders Geier, a faculty member at Tennessee State University, and others filed suit. Having two full service universities in Nashville, they argued, would perpetuate the dual system of education in Tennessee — one for whites and one for blacks.
The immediate result was a requirement by the court that the state submit a plan for desegregating higher education in Tennessee. After 32 years, the state’s attorney general submitted the idea of mediation and the result was a consent degree, the first time that all parties unanimously agreed on a plan of action.
Last December, Geier presented Tennessee Tech with the first “Spirit of Geier” Award given by the TBR for exceptional commitment to implementing the intent of the Geier Consent Decree.
“In this same spirit, we hope to share what Geier is all about with our community and our university,” said McGee.
Burnett will preside over the forum with President Bob Bell welcoming participants and guests. TBR Chancellor Charles Manning will open the forum with an explanation of the significance of the Geier lawsuit.