Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Higher and Adult Education


Higher Education

Committee Chair

Mitsunori Misawa

Committee Member

Larry McNeal

Committee Member

Charisse Gulosino

Committee Member

William Akey


The State of Mississippi operated a dual system of higher education for White and Black citizens. The inequitable funding of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) became the central issue in the Ayers lawsuit. The State of Mississippi agreed to pay $503 million for endowments and programs at the three public four-year HBCUs. The purpose of this multiple case study was to understand the impact of the Ayers case on state-supported HBCUs in Mississippi from a Critical Race Theory perspective. The research questions that guided this study: How has the history of higher education in Mississippi affected the way HBCUs operate today? How does the Ayers case affect HBCUs today? What strategies have HBCUs employed to achieve the student diversity measure set forth by the Ayers settlement as a condition for controlling the endowment? Data collection utilized semi-structured interviews, nonparticipant observation, document analysis, and field notes. Research findings from the cross-case analysis suggest that embedded racism and classism caused White state leaders to form a segregated higher education system. The interests of Whites and Blacks converged when a large portion of funds were used for other-race scholarships and stipends to benefit White students. Control of the endowment was withheld from HBCUs until each university obtained a 10% population of other-race students for three consecutive years. To achieve the diversity measure, athletics departments at HBCUs recruited Caucasian and international students, administrators signed memoranda of understanding with predominantly White institutions (PWIs) and international universities, and academic programs on branch campuses attracted other-race students. The implications for HBCU administrators include securing maximum funds from the state using the funding formula, generating revenue from outside sources by educating alumni, adequately staffing and funding institutional advancement, and using the institution’s bond rating to build needed facilities when necessary. In conclusion, the Ayers settlement benefitted HBCUs with capital projects and temporary funds that supported new and enhanced academic programs, faculty salaries, and operating budgets, but White students also benefitted from the settlement in the form of other-race scholarships and stipends. HBCU administrators are making plans to subsume Ayers budget costs into their operating budgets.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.