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In the spring of 2010, Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek assembled a task force on Civility and Community and asked its members to define civility, come up with a list of guiding principles, and recommend ways we can further civility on our 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 also weighed in on policies, staffing and ways to incorporate civility into coursework.

Our differences are not something to fear, or set us apart. Our differences are what push us forward and make us better.

After review of the report, Chancellor Cheek assembled a leadership group on Interculturalism to consider the recommendations and prioritize the recommendations so that focused efforts can will help make civility is an integral and highly valued campus characteristic.

A student advisory panel has been formed to help the group set priorities for implementation and to identify the most effective actions to achieve our goals.

Through the work of the task force, the following definitions have been adopted:


Civility is an act of showing regard and respect for others including: politeness, consideration, tact, good manners, graciousness, cordiality, affability, amiability and courteousness []. Ultimately, civility is treating others as we would like to be treated.


A community consists of all individuals and groups who live or interact with one another in a geographic area such as a university campus. Community members affect each others’ well-being and have a shared interest in creating and sustaining an environment where all community members and their points of view are valued and respected. The UT community consists of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents of UT students, and campus visitors.

Along with definitions, the task force drafted 10 principles of civility based on research on effective initiatives on other campuses across the nation.


Adopted in Fall 2011, the Civility and Community Initiative is designed to work in concert with existing University of Tennessee, Knoxville, codes of conduct including: UT Faculty Handbook (Chapter 1.1 Nature and Purpose and Chapter 2.25 Professional Conduct); UT Faculty and Staff Code of Conduct (HR Policy HR0580); and Hilltopics Student Handbook (General Standards of Conduct).