Recruiting, retaining, and graduating minority graduate students require targeted, comprehensive approaches, funding to support scholars, and welcoming, inclusive graduate environments. At the University of Memphis, funding for African American graduate students has come primarily in the form of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Minority Fellowships. The TBR Minority fellowships were created exclusively for American African graduate students from a source of federal dollars known as “Geier” or desegregation funds. For the past 24 years, the University of Memphis has received funds to support African American scholars in underrepresented areas. Over 100 African American graduate students have completed degrees with support from Geier funding!
Statement of the Problem
The “Geier” monies that have been invaluable to our successful recruitment efforts ended in 2006. “On January 5, 2001 the court approved what is now referred to as the Geier Consent Decree. At the end of five years, if the State has fulfilled its obligations set out in the Consent Decree, the Geier litigation ends. The Consent Decree was signed and agreed to by the U.S. Government, all private plaintiffs, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Tennessee authorities” (Tennessee Board of Regents, 2001). It is therefore critical, in the absence of Geier funds, to identify and institutionalize successful models that created diversity and inclusiveness in the graduate programs at the University of Memphis.