Innovative Higher Education

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 101–115

When a Trial Threatens to Merge Small Universities: The Role of Litigation Public Relations in a Federal Desegregation Case

  • J. Dale Thorn

DOI: 10.1023/A:1025193323375

Cite this article as:
Thorn, J.D. Innovative Higher Education (1997) 22: 101. doi:10.1023/A:1025193323375


Occasionally, a confluence of factors threatens the continued existence of an institution. A 1994 federal district court trial in Mississippi provided the setting for an unprecedented desegregation case that threatened the future of two universities. The President of Mississippi University for Women faced the ethical dilemma of going along with the wishes of her board of trustees or fighting for the retention of her institution. Buttressed by loyal alumni, the media savvy President engaged in an unorthodox and innovative litigation public relations campaign that proved highly effective. In saving Mississippi University for Women, a historically White institution, The W's campaign also played a significant part in saving Mississippi Valley State University, a historically Black institution.

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Dale Thorn
    • 1
  1. 1.Louisiana State UniversityUSA

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