University of Tennessee to Name Dorms for Black trailblazers

The University of Tennessee will rename buildings to honor Theotis Robinson and Rita Sanders Geier.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ The University of Tennessee at Knoxville is naming residence halls after two Black trailblazers.

A university news release says the buildings will honor Theotis Robinson and Rita Sanders Geier.

Robinson is a Knoxville native and was the first Black undergraduate student admitted to the university and one of three Black students to desegregate the university fully in 1961.

Geier grew up in Memphis and is known for the result of a landmark lawsuit that sought to unravel inequities in Tennessee’s higher education system.

Both of them later worked for the university. The university’s board approved the renaming at a meeting Thursday.

The university says Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement Tyvi Small called Robinson and Geier to deliver the news.

“I couldn’t be prouder _ not for me and my name _ but the fact that we’ve come to this point to honor me and Theotis in this way,” Geier said in the release.