UT Kicks off Campus-wide Civility and Community Initiative
KNOXVILLE — Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek hosted a crowd of faculty, staff, students, and alumni in celebrating civility and community on the UT campus Friday.
The day marked the formal launch of a campus-wide effort to ensure that civility is an integral part of the UT Knoxville community and what it means to be a Tennessee Volunteer. The event was part of UT’s annual International Festival.
“Put simply, civility is treating others as you want to be treated,” said Chancellor Cheek. “As we go forward, you will have opportunities to interpret and discuss the principles of civility and to share what they mean to you. The principles will become part of our UT culture.”
The principles are ten key words which have been defined as the best way to demonstrate civility and value for the campus community.
Cheek announced that civility will be a core component of Freshman Orientation. The principles of civility and community also will be central to FYS 100: The Volunteer Connection, a new zero-credit, pass-fail course, which is now a required course for all freshmen.
Civility goals are already part of UT’s Ready for the World effort to prepare students for working in a global economy. Faculty and staff will integrate civility in their ongoing programs which explore diverse cultures and backgrounds.
Students are also being asked to make the emphasis in campus programming, as they make decisions about speakers, workshops, and campus entertainment.
The campus-wide Life of the Mind book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, highlights civility as a central theme. All freshmen are asked to read the book before arriving on campus and then participate in discussion groups about its themes during Welcome Week.
UT’s Torch Night ceremony will build the principles into our values as Volunteers, Cheek said. Training for faculty, staff, and student leaders will be promoted as well.
“And that is just a start; there will be more work to do,” he said. “We are committed to making it a part of all that we do going forward. I encourage you to think of ways to make it part of your work, your life, your group.”
Last spring, after several incidents of bias were reported, Cheek sent a memo to the campus emphasizing that he would not tolerate behavior that was hostile or unwelcoming to any member of the campus community. He assembled a task force on civility and community and asked its members to define civility and come up with a list of guiding principles and recommend ways to promote civility on campus.
The task force was co-chaired by Mike Wirth, dean of the College of Communication and Information, and included faculty, staff, students, and community members. The group looked at several existing campus-wide programs and services and made recommendations on how to bring the civility and community concepts to the forefront. The task force also recommended several new programs and services.
The final report, located at http://utk.edu/go/7a (pdf),also weighed in on policies, staffing, and ways to incorporate civility into coursework.
For more information about the effort, visit http://civility.utk.edu/.
Karen Simsen, Media and Internal Relations, 865-974-5186, firstname.lastname@example.org