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College Civility Statement

A letter from the dean regarding the college's statement on civility.
October 26, 2011
Dear members of the College of Arts and Humanities Community,
 
At a retreat of departmental leaders and others in the fall of 2007, there was a discussion of civility in the college and at the university; particularly the way we interact with one another, visitors and guests. Many of those present reported a growing number of incidents of incivility that have a negative effect on our ability to work, learn and teach. In response to those conversations Dean James Harris asked a group to draft a statement, not a policy, on civility. A draft of the statement was reviewed by the college’s Collegiate Council, Administrative Council and members of the college were also surveyed. While a majority welcomed the attempt, some had issues with various aspects of the wording of the statement, and a few felt that, despite claims to the contrary, the statement amounted to a policy which could stifle the free exchange of ideas. Others wanted to go further to protect the least powerful among us. Nevertheless, I share former Dean Harris’s belief that it is important for the dean to communicate expectations to faculty and staff in the college that are designed, overall, to enhance communication, collaboration and cooperation throughout our community.
 
I am therefore taking this opportunity to reiterate the college’s statement on civility as an expression of my own beliefs and expectations about how we should function. The plan to redistribute this statement was discussed and reaffirmed at a recent meeting of the Collegiate Council.
 

College Civility Statement:

The College of Arts and Humanities values vigorous intellectual debate within a diverse community. Therefore, as dean I expect this college to be a diverse, open and tolerant arena within which all ideas, whether popular or not, may be freely discussed without rancor. Demeaning, intimidating or threatening behavior is unacceptable and contrary to our ethical principles and basic values. Under various circumstances, such behavior is also contrary to university policy.
 
The college should take the lead in producing, and take pride in sustaining, an environment that is characterized by tolerance, respect and civility. This should be the hallmark of a college that welcomes and values diverse perspectives, intellectual pluralism and the free and open exchange of ideas. Every member of this community—staff, faculty, leadership, supervisors and students within the college—is responsible for promoting such an environment and supporting these expectations.  
 
Sincerely,                                                              
Bonnie Thornton Dill
Dean, College of Arts & Humanities