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KNOXVILLE — The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and the College of Law at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will host a one-day symposium on the role of courts in shaping policy in public higher education on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

The event, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Baker Center, 1640 Cumberland Ave., is free and open to the public.

The symposium will focus on the precedent-setting Geier vs. Bredesen case and its impact in public higher education in Tennessee and other states. Speaking at the event will be the parties, counsel and judge who were involved in the case, as well as legal scholars and university administrators who will share their perspectives about the future of policy affecting access and diversity in public higher education in the current legal, fiscal and policy environments.

Rita Sanders Geier, a Tennessee State University faculty member in 1968, filed a suit in the U.S. District Court challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee’s higher education system, claiming it was still segregated. The suit resulted in the 2001 Geier Consent Decree, which provided $77 million in state funds to diversify students and faculty of all state higher educational institutions. Up until the consent decree was dismissed in 2006, more than 1,300 black students benefited from Geier-funded scholarships at UT Knoxville. The lifting of the Geier Consent Decree prompted initiatives including the Tennessee Pledge and Tennessee Promise scholarships that are awarded to academically qualified students based on need and attendance at high schools that have traditionally sent few students to UT.

Geier now serves as an associate to the chancellor and a senior fellow at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. She helps implement the goals of the university’s diversity plan and Ready for the World, UT’s international and intercultural awareness initiative.

Additionally, the symposium will feature Tennessee Deputy Governor John Morgan, who will discuss recent public higher education reforms and the future of access and diversity in Tennessee.

The lunch keynote speaker is Julius L. Chambers, counsel in landmark civil rights cases and former director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

There is a $15 charge for lunch. A no lunch option is also available.

Registration for lunch is required by Friday, Feb. 19. To register, contact Betsy Harrell at Bharrel5@utk.edu or 974-0931.

CLE credit is available for attending this symposium.

A full agenda can be found on the Baker Center Web site.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu)