The Geier Consent Decree years: Fulfilled or unfulfilled promises?

Jewell Winn, Tennessee State University


The Geier Consent Decree, an agreement stemming from the landmark case Geier v. State of Tennessee was approved by the United States district Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division in 2001, with the intent of eliminating vestiges of past discrimination in higher education in Tennessee. Professional development and recruitment programs as well as affirmative action practices were set forth for the defendants to follow for five years. All initiatives set forth in the decree were funded by the state. The purpose of this study was to review reports, policies, transcriptions of personal interviews, and other relevant documents to gain an understanding of the impact of the consent decree on placement, promotion, and retention of African American faculty and administrators at the University of Memphis (U of M), Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK). A qualitative case study design was chosen for this study and addressed implementation, funding, and evaluation of hiring and retention practices over the course of the consent decree years to the dismissal of the lawsuit. The initiatives outlined in the decree include (a) institutional plans to utilize university resources to enhance and further the recruitment and retention of African American faculty and administrators, (b) pre-doctoral fellowship programs to recruit and support other-race graduate students from across the country who are completing dissertation research, and (c) visiting scholars program. Relevant documents were retrieved and examined from each of the schools in the study and from other sources such as the Tennessee Board of Regents and Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Personal interviews were conducted with fifteen consenting African American faculty members and administrators from the three schools chosen for this study. An analysis of the themes developed from the interview transcriptions revealed the participants perception of how their personal lives have been impacted by the Consent Decree. Each campus fulfilled the promise of Geier by following the plan as outlined in the Consent Decree. However the extent to which the promise was unfulfilled is evident in the number of African American participants in programs outlined in the decree.

Subject Area

Black studies|Law|School administration

Recommended Citation

Jewell Winn, "The Geier Consent Decree years: Fulfilled or unfulfilled promises?" (2008). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3307303.