“The Voice of Change” will be Rita Sanders Geier’s topic at The University of Tennessee Space Institute’s Black History Celebration on Wednesday, March 17, 2010, at 2:00 pm in the UTSI Auditorium. Geier is Associate to the Chancellor and Senior Fellow at the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She leads UT’s intercultural efforts and implements goals of the university’s diversity plan and Ready For The World initiative
In 1968, Geier was a 23 year old law student at Vanderbilt University and instructor at Tennessee State University in Nashville, an historically black university. During that time, the University of Tennessee, a predominately white university, had a campus in Nashville and announced plans to expand. Fearing such expansion would be detrimental to Tennessee State University, she sued the State of Tennessee to desegregate its higher education system. The suit spanned 39 years, seven governors and, “as a result, Tennessee has spent $77 million since 2001 to increase equality and diversity at state colleges and universities.” The lawsuit was dismissed in September 2006.
Geier has a law degree from Vanderbilt University, a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University.
Prior to joining UT, Geier worked at the Social Security Administration in Washington, D.C., as executive counselor to the commissioner for special initiatives, serving as principal adviser on Medicare appeals, identity theft and other initiatives. She has had a long career in federal government as a trial attorney and administrator working with the Department of Justice and the Appalachian Regional Commission in Washington, D.C. She received the Presidential Rank Meritorious Executive Award from President Bill Clinton and is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.
The program will include special music, presentations, and a reception following the program. The UTSI Celebration is free and the public is invited to attend. Please contact UTSI Human Resources at (931) 393-7226 for any questions.