The status of Tennessee higher education funding based on federal court decisions since the Geier settlement of 1984

John William Sanders, Tennessee State University


Patterns of funding in higher education, over the eleven years after Tennessee's federal desegregation lawsuit was settled in 1984, were studied. Funding per student, adjusted to 1995, dollars was examined in four areas: total appropriations, centers of excellence funding, performance funding, and library funding. The effects of political budget reallocation on each university's appropriations and capital expenditures were studied. The data showed a funding pattern over the period which was inequitable and did not comply with the 1984 agreement which mandated the dismantling of the previous de jure system of higher education. The state's predominantly black university and two predominantly white universities, all being located in Middle Tennessee and being the fastest growing, were linked by the court to assist in the disassembly of the segregated system. Over the period, the three schools were funded at a lower rate per student in dollars adjusted for inflation. Two of the schools received fewer funds per student, adjusted for inflation, in their 1994-95 budget than they received in their 1984-85 budget. Study results revealed a pattern of funding of the larger, slow or no growth universities at a significantly higher rate per student than the three fast growing Middle Tennessee schools. Progress toward court mandated desegregation goals for 2000 was examined for each institution and the results showed that no school had exceed their goal and the others were making slow progress. Land-Grant funding was studied and compared to the findings in the Knight v. Alabama (1995) U.S. District Court Decision. The funding pattern over the period was examined and a potential violation was found of the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Freeman v. Pitts (1992) and U.S. v. Fordice (1992), which held that any discriminatory action which could be traced to the prior de jure system was unconstitutional.

Subject Area

School administration|Higher education|School finance

Recommended Citation

John William Sanders, "The status of Tennessee higher education funding based on federal court decisions since the Geier settlement of 1984" (1996). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI9804413.