University of Connecticut
Chancellor's Special Task Force on Community and Civility
Interim Report and Recommendations
Submitted to the Chancellor:
January 27, 1999


Following the events of University/Spring Weekend 1998, Chancellor Mark Emmert created a Special Task Force on Community and Civility to study the issues brought to light by that experience. The task force was instructed:

  • To make "recommendations on enhancing a sense of community at the University of Connecticut and on assuring that civility becomes an integral part of living in that community" and,

  • "To explore ways to build a more cohesive campus community in which all members are expected to contribute in a positive way toward the creation of an environment conducive to learning with clear expectations for civility, respect and responsible citizenship."

With that charge before it, the Task Force was convened in early August and commenced a schedule of regular meetings throughout the Fall semester.

Initial Activities
The initial meetings of the Task Force were devoted to:

  • A review of the specific events of last spring that precipitated our convening;

  • A specific discussion of the possibility of calling for a Metanoia on Community and Civility;

  • An exploration of the theories of Ernest Boyer as a framework for our discussions; and,

  • A general discussion of a strategy and timetable for approaching our task.

In September, the Task Force recommended to the Trustees-Administrators-Faculty-Student (TAFS) Committee that a Metanoia on Campus Community should be called for sometime during the second semester to engage in a campus-wide discussion about community. That proposal was approved and a Metanoia Committee was assembled and has begun the process of developing plans for a series of events and activities to be held during a two-week period in April 1999.

A general format of our meetings for our discussions was developed and agreed upon. In large part, our discussions and the framework of our interim proposals have been guided by a Carnegie report entitled Campus Life: In Search of Community (Boyer, 1990). This report makes it clear that the issues being confronted here are not unique to UConn. It also proposes a series of principles or defining characteristics of the sort of community that a university should strive to become. These defining characteristics have functioned as a basic organizing framework that we have employed to organize both our discussions and the suggestions that have come to us. An abbreviated statement of those principles is included later in this report.

By mid-September, the initial phase of our work was completed. The Task Force had agreed to proceed to the next stage by conducting a series of open meetings and focus groups with a wide range of constituencies across campus. These meetings were intended to draw feedback from a diversity of individuals and groups both with specific reference to the events of last spring and to the more general sense of community on campus (or lack thereof).

Information Gathering
The second stage of the activities of the Task Force took place during October and November and involved three types of information gathering.

  1. Small teams of Task Force members met with a wide variety of campus constituent groups to discuss both perceived problems and suggested remedies. The Task Force heard from hundreds of people both on and off campus (both orally and in writing). Their comments and suggestions have formed the basic underpinning for our subsequent discussions and we are greatly indebted to those who made the effort to assist us in our work.

  2. Representatives of the University participated in national meetings concerned with Spring Weekend-like disturbances. Reports from those meeting provided information on practices at other Universities, which has helped to inform our discussions and shape our proposals.

  3. The regular meetings of the full Task Force also continued with some portion of each meeting devoted to specific topics of concern. In these discussions, individuals both from on and off campus with experience in dealing with various aspects of the issues met with the Task Force. Their perspectives too have shaped our recommendations.

These various activities have brought us to the point where we are prepared to submit an Interim Report of our preliminary recommendations.

Generalized Findings and Common Themes
Through our information gathering, several common themes emerged. The most important being that many students feel disconnected from the University. Many faculty and staff also seem to experience this sense of disconnectedness. We heard students and staff suggest that "UConn does this" or "the University made this decision" or "UConn should let us do this because we are going to do it anyway." Clearly these individuals are not feeling that they are UConn and that they are the "University." We did not get the sense that people feel that UConn is the sum of all of us.

We also heard members of the campus community express desire to be more involved in the governance of the University. They want to be heard. In addition, they desire follow-up. An explanation of the decision and the process by which it was made would go a long way to nurture understanding and acceptance.

The need to be valued and appreciated was also reflected in our discussions. When asked, few students were able to identify anyone on campus who cares about their success. Whether this feeling is the result of an erroneous perception or reflects reality, this is of great concern to us. If we are to create a more cohesive campus community, we believe members of that community must have a belief that their welfare and success are important to others in the community.

Also, there appears to be a desire to know who is leading the University through the upper administration. Many members of the campus community would like to see interaction with the administration become a common occurrence and not a unique experience. Additionally, students expressed frustration with the current state of shared governance at UConn. Despite efforts of executive leadership and student leaders, many members of the general student body feel unrepresented in the decision making process. Also, many students expressed a desire to be able to enter any office and be treated with respect, kindness, and helpfulness.

We saw evidence that there are many mini-communities within the larger University community. These include, but are not limited to, academic departments, living communities, cultural centers, and student organizations. It is through these communities that some people appear to become connected. Through these connections, they are more likely to develop a sense of belonging and concern for the members within that community. However, some people do not report connectedness through any subgroup and many do not report feeling a part of the larger University community at all. It was revealing to us that many people did not identify themselves as part of the University. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from the mini-communities that have experienced noteworthy success in connecting with their members, but it appears there is work to be done in building the overall University community.

It is in accordance with these findings that we make our preliminary recommendations.

Preliminary Recommendations
Three points should be made regarding this set of recommendations. First, they are TENTATIVE in the sense that our desired procedural model is one in which these ideas will now prompt a second cycle of discussions across campus. This is desirable both so that these proposals might be further refined and so that additional ideas may be generated. It is our intent to continue working during early 1999, but that should not be interpreted as undercutting the seriousness or appropriateness of the proposals advanced here. We also are convinced that the work of building the sort of community we seek will be enhanced by ongoing discussion of these issues and proposed solutions during the coming months. We believe that some of the recommendations can be implemented immediately and we urge that opportunities be provided for broad discussion of all of these recommendations.

Second, while no single recommendation in this report is intended to be earth shattering, it is our belief that when taken collectively, these recommendations can and will contribute significantly in making UConn a more cohesive and civil campus. Therefore, to allow for optimum understanding and effect, this report should be read in its entirety and considered as a cohesive and interdependent package, not as a set of independent and mutually exclusive segments.

Third, the statement of these ideas or proposals is organized following an outline contained in the report Campus Life: In Search of Community, (Boyer 1990) to which reference was made earlier. To make that structure clearer, an excerpt from that report has been added here.

What is needed, we believe, is a larger, more integrative vision of community in higher education, one that focuses not on the length of time students spend on campus, but on the quality of the encounter, and how it relates not only to social activities, but to the classroom, too. The goal as we see it is to clarify both academic and civic standards, and above all, to define with some precision the enduring values that undergrid a community of learning.

In response to this challenge, we propose six principles that provide an effective formula for day-to-day decision making on the campus and, taken together, define the kind of community every college and university should strive to be.

Purposeful Community - - A college or university is an educationally purposeful community, a place where faculty and students share academic goals and work together to strengthen teaching and learning on the campus.

Open Community - - A college or university is an open community, a place where freedom of expression is uncompromisingly protected and where civility is powerfully affirmed.

Just Community - - A college or university is a just community, a place where the sacredness of the person is honored and where diversity is aggressively pursued.

Disciplined Community - - A college or university is a disciplined community, a place where well-defined governance procedures guide behavior for the common good.

Caring Community - - A college or university is a caring community, a place where the well-being of each member is sensitively supported and where service to others is encouraged.

Celebrative Community - - A college or university is a celebrative community, one in which the heritage of the institution is remembered and where rituals affirming both tradition and change are widely shared. (p. 7-8, Boyer, 1990)

While one might, and in fact we have, argued about the meaning or relevance of one or another of these desired attributes, we agree that in the aggregate they convey a sense of the sort of community we feel the University of Connecticut should be striving to become.

Specific Proposals

Purposeful Community

"A college or university is an educationally purposeful community, a place where faculty and students share academic goals and work together to strengthen teaching and learning on the campus." (Boyer, 1990)

The purpose of this University is to expand knowledge and promote learning. This is accomplished when members of the community (faculty, staff, and students) learn and expand their personal knowledge base, translate and apply their knowledge through service in the public arena, and expand the boundaries of knowledge in a more general sense through their research. All three types of learning are critical to our institutional identity and success. All members of the UConn community must understand that these are the central values that underlie our collective enterprise. Therefore, to create a more purposeful community at UConn, we recommend the following:

  •     Reiterate and promote our vision, purpose and goals
    Revise the University's vision, mission, values and goals statement to be more concise/focused so that all members of our campus community can easily embrace and articulate what purpose binds us together. Involve a cross section of community members in the process of revising the vision, mission, and goal statement in order to insure broad ownership in the process (faculty, staff, friends of the University, and students).

  • Repeat the vision and purpose in public settings
    By repeating our vision and purpose in public settings (convocations, community-wide celebrations, and campus publications), others will better understand our shared mission. Since new faculty, staff, and students join our campus community each year, this becomes an ongoing process. The more we reiterate our purpose, the more we will work collaboratively to accomplish our shared objectives.

  • Involve students in discussion about our purpose/vision
    Engage students in discussions about our purpose and priorities with University leaders. Conduct a leadership retreat that brings together key University leaders with a cross section of student leaders so that we can better understand each other's perspectives (and the challenges we face) and so that we can embrace more fully a shared purpose for the institution. (Include faculty as well in student leadership retreats/leadership development efforts.)

  •     Model what you would expect from an educationally purposeful community
    We all (faculty, staff, and students) must engage in efforts to make UConn a more educationally purposeful community. We need to clarify and model what a learning community is and develop aspiration statements that outline such a community. We also need to find measures by which our activities in this regard will be evaluated. In working together, we will better understand the value in these efforts as well as the responsibilities of all people involved. Re-focusing on a sincere commitment to the creation of an environment in which an educationally purposeful community can thrive will help us discover the common bond that is unique to an institution of higher learning. This very process will encourage all members of the community to embrace and contribute to the general development of that community.

  •     Continue the dialogue
    The dialogue begun by the Chancellor's Special Task Force on Community and Civility is a crucial process in and of itself for a campus community. Promote ongoing efforts like focus groups and campus forums to bring faculty, staff, and students together to collectively address community needs and concerns.


  •      Change topic of application essay
    Change the essay question for our prospective students so that they will begin thinking before they are even admitted about what it means to be a part of an educationally purposeful community. Perhaps, ask them to explain the meaning of a "sincere commitment to knowledge."

  •      Stress departments' contributions to campus community in the academic program review process
    As we conduct internal and external reviews of our various academic programs, we should also be looking at the departments' commitment to the campus community (the external review process can have a tendency to focus on our contributions beyond our campus). Be sure to involve students in the program review process.

  •      Promote ongoing education for all members of our faculty and staff
    If we consider ourselves to be an educationally purposeful community, then we should encourage educational efforts among our faculty and staff. Offer tuition assistance for ALL employees. (Could be as simple as employees can take classes for free as long as there is room in the class after all paying students have been accepted.)

  •      Develop and recognize effective leadership
    Encourage members of campus community to develop their leadership potential through structured programs and experiences and recognize their many contributions to the institution's purpose. In particular, provide leadership development programs for students.

  •      Continue the Chancellor's Special Task Force on Community and Civility
    Empower the Chancellor's Special Task Force to continue and expand its efforts during the Spring 1999 semester. This will make it possible for the dialog to continue through the semester (including Metanoia and the spring) and it will allow for ongoing inclusiveness in determining future directions and ongoing recommendations. While it is important to keep the current group in place to monitor progress on this first round of recommendations, it is also advisable to explore ways to re-configure the group. As more members of the campus community are engaged in discussions about our community, more voices will be reflected in the results of the effort and more individuals will take ownership in the results. This task force should continue to involve the community in building community.

Open Community
"A college or university is an open community, a place where freedom of expression is uncompromisingly protected and where civility is powerfully affirmed." (Boyer, 1990)

The hallmark of great universities is academic freedom, the ability to pursue knowledge whereever it takes one, unfettered by scientific, intellectual, religious, or political dogma. In order for freedom of inquiry and of expression to flourish it must be protected and encouraged. Dissent and debate must be characterized by rational and respectful discourse that is a central tenet in a civil society. In this regard, a great public university such as UConn has a special obligation to serve as a model for society in general. Therefore, to create a more open community at UConn, we recommend the following:

  •      Teach and model the skills necessary for effective civil discourse and debate
    Many people avoid confrontation and thereby avoid debating issues with others. In an environment in which freedom of expression is valued, refined debating skills are essential. Honing these skills should become part of the education we provide to our students. One of the ways to teach is to model civil discourse. By demonstrating to students how to debate and disagree in a civil and productive manner, they will certainly be more likely to engage in similar discourse with their fellow students. We need to provide ongoing opportunities for students to engage in expressing themselves in a civil way even when their beliefs are in opposition to other's views.

  •      Publicize faculty, staff, and student involvement in decision making process
    Many times faculty, staff and student representation has been a part of key decision making groups (i.e. presidential search committees) but few people other than those who participated know of that involvement. Representatives should find ways to solicit input from and provide feedback to their constituents. Mechanisms should be developed for quickly informing the components of the university community of decisions that have been made and how their representative was involved in that process.

  •      Develop better mechanisms for learning more about other parts of the community
    Give all campus departments an opportunity to describe and highlight what they do so that others are more "tuned in" to the valuable resources available and appreciate each others contributions in the educational enterprise. For example, provide copies of The Advance to students as well as faculty and staff and increase coverage of University programs, services, and initiatives in this publication.

  •      Develop mechanisms to better communicate/connect through technology
    Technology can be a tool for better connecting with members of our campus community and can be an entre for getting people to interact more in person. We should be more effective (and efficient) in using technology for this purpose through things like chatrooms, Usenets, voting/gathering opinions on various issues, sharing perspectives, and exchanging ideas. By combining the expertise of some of our technology specialists with the expertise of staff who understand the dynamics of building community, some creative and innovative solutions are certain to emerge. These innovations should be implemented systematically so the larger campus community can benefit.


  •      Create opportunities for "free speech"
    Build a "free speech" platform/area that will create a visible place where the exchange of ideas is not only allowed but also encouraged. It should be a place where crowds can congregate to listen to a diversity of views and beliefs as well as to openly challenge those beliefs in a civil and public forum.

  • Sponsor a lecture series that provokes controversy. Bring in speakers (or highlight those already here) so that the campus community can more fully embrace freedom of expression. By provoking controversy and thoughtful debate of issues and concerns, we will demonstrate that we are a community that values free expression of ideas and create an environment supportive of that activity.

  •      Advertise campus events more effectively
    A multitude of activities are being sponsored around campus that would assist in building community. However, few people are aware of all that is available and thus, few take full advantage of the offerings. Efforts should continue to provide a comprehensive campus events calendar and make it available on the Web. We should also explore securing/buying a block of space in the Daily Campus and the Advance to promote current events. Other mechanisms that should be considered include: electronic signs at campus entrances (with scrolling message of upcoming events), electronic message signs/kiosks in all dining halls and food establishments (with current event announcements), message boards/kiosks in commuter parking lots, and broadcast messages through e-mail and voice mail.

  •      Institute a "comment card" system
    Provide a formal mechanism where members of the campus community can submit positive and negative comments about our programs and services and channel those comments to the appropriate person for a response. Once a response has been provided, post the card (with comment and response) on a public bulletin board so others can see the response AND know that their comments and concerns are being addressed.

  •      Develop comprehensive orientation programs for faculty and staff
    Faculty and staff need to have an opportunity to learn about our campus culture and what is important to members of our community. Additionally, all faculty and staff need to have a better foundation of knowledge about the services and programs available on campus so that they can be better prepared to point students in the right direction when their assistance is sought.

  •      Create architectural model of the campus (and master plan)
    Create a visual and virtual model of the current campus AND of the campus of the future with planned buildings and changes so that all members of the campus community can be reminded of the vision we are working to create. Place this model in a central/visible location and update it regularly with new buildings as their designs are finalized.

Just Community
"A college or university is a just community, a place where the sacredness of the person is honored and where diversity is aggressively pursued." (Boyer, 1990)

The time-honored mission of the land grant university has been to open the doors of higher education not simply to a privileged few but to the entire spectrum of our society and economy. That coupled with the principle of academic freedom means that a defining characteristic of UConn has been and ought to be diversity. Just as we must protect intellectual diversity so must we protect individuals whose differences add to the richness of our community, making it a better place in which to challenge our ideas and ideals and in which to learn. Therefore, to create a more just community at UConn, we recommend the following:

  •      Engage in efforts that celebrate and promote diversity at UConn
    The University has a responsibility to provide all students with a diverse educational experience and to ensure that underrepresented populations have equal access to become active members of the community. In order to accomplish this several areas should be attended to:

  •      Ensure that the responsibility for diversity programs and efforts are shared by all University units
    Encourage departments to be creative and to take initiative in addressing diversity issues.

  •      Incorporate classes or educational experiences on diversity
    Provide opportunity for cross-cultural exploration and awareness, - for example, through modification of the general education curriculum - thereby preparing all students for participation in a diverse and global society.

  •      Deliver on our commitment to recruit and retain faculty and staff who are women and people of color
    Recruit and hire more faculty and staff of color for all levels (especially upper administration). If we are to be a diverse campus, we must provide role models representative of diversity and ensure power is shared and that decisions are made by a leadership team that includes women and people of color.

  •      Better utilize and increase scholarship opportunities to recruit and retain a diverse student body

  •      Work towards making the campus a "safe zone"
    Make UConn a place where people of any sexual orientation feel comfortable.

  •      Provide a mechanism for ongoing discussion of sensitive issues
    Find additional ways to promote healthy exchange and ongoing discussions of how we can be more just towards each other. Also, find ways to provide a better foundation of knowledge about differences to inform these discussions. Facilitate a culture of critical thinkers.

  •     More effectively engage students who may be presently feeling ignored
    Presently there are several groups of students who may not feel like full participants in our campus community. Bachelors of General Studies, commuter, regional, graduate students and students with disabilities are some of the obvious groups but there are more. Since some of these students do not live on campus and perhaps are not fully immersed in the life of the campus, we must make an extra effort to include them in the community (e-mail, local addresses, communication tools that reach more than residence halls).

  •      Address the spirituality and religious needs of our students
    We should send a message to our students that their spiritual and religious development is an important part of their growth during the college experience. While we do not intend to violate constitutional rights of freedom of religion or cross the line that separates church and state, we do believe there is room to accommodate and respect both the spiritual and intellectual lives of our students on our campus. We expect that by making room for this dimension, we will simultaneously encourage and provide for a more civil campus community.

  •      Incorporate moral and ethical growth into our students' experience
    Find ways to address these dimensions of growth and development through the curricular and co-curricular experience of our students and be deliberate about our effort. A civil community needs to openly address the moral and ethical dilemmas of our greater society.

  •      Encourage student organizations to embrace missions that echo the University's mission
    Encourage, acknowledge, and reward organizations that "get out of their boxes" and connect beyond their own group of students. Reward and applaud community-building efforts among students.


  •      Provide a more inclusive environment for international students
    Enable international students to feel more welcome and "at home" at UConn. By providing food and a place to live during breaks, an orientation to address their specialized needs, and space for coming together for networking and sharing of culture, international students can feel more embraced and appreciated as members of the campus community. Furthermore, build strategies for connecting U.S. students and international students to facilitate greater global understanding.

  •      Address the special transition needs of "branchfers," transfers and non-traditional students
    Develop appropriate orientation and transition programs for these students so they do not feel like an afterthought. While they already know some of the survival techniques for college in general, they still need to learn the UConn culture and have an opportunity to become active members of the campus community.

  •      Re-examine policies for assigning e-mail addresses to staff
    Treat members of the faculty and staff equally in assigning e-mail addresses. Presently, upper administrators, faculty, "important" people and those with their own server can use some variation of their name while the remaining staff have a department specific user name that must be changed if they move to another department. Why can't they all use their own name?


Disciplined Community
"A college or university is a disciplined community, a place where well-defined governance procedures guide behavior for the common good." (Boyer, 1990)

Individuals belonging to a community that is characterized by openness and diversity must understand that the respect accorded to them and their ideas requires a reciprocal respect on their part for others and their ideas. Thus their freedom must be bounded by respect for the freedom of others. This fundamental principle requires both that individuals be self disciplining and that, as a community, we arrive at guidelines for governing behavior of all and for dealing with those who violate the community's standards. All persons must be governed by and have access to due process procedures for the resolution of disputes. Therefore, to create a more disciplined community at UConn, we recommend the following:

  •      Clarify our expectations of students
    Through an improved student code of conduct, clarify what is expected of student members of the campus community. Additionally, find ways to educate students about those expectations early in their career at UConn.

  •      Re-write the Student Code of Conduct and re-engineer the Student Discipline Process
    Through the student code and the discipline process, empower members of the campus community to be full participants in both setting their community standards and enforcing them. Review the code and its process regularly to insure a more comprehensive "buy-in" among community members. We must also educate faculty and staff about the Conduct Code and its processes.

  •      Involve students more fully in enforcing the student code of conduct
    By involving students in the re-writing of the student code and by creating more inclusive student judicial boards, we will enable students to take more ownership in their rights and responsibilities as members of the campus community.

  •      Send swift and clear messages about consequences of inappropriate behavior
    Publicize a summary of violations and the consequences of violating the student code and other campus regulations so that the message is consistent and clear that inappropriate behavior will be addressed swiftly within the campus community. The campus community should know in advance the potential consequences of violations and the results when actual violations occur.

  •      Clarify our expectations of faculty and staff
    In order to provide a truly disciplined campus community, faculty and staff must also feel ownership in a shared set of standards/expectations and must be involved in encouraging each other to adhere to those standards. It therefore is vital to maintain, review, and when necessary, revise the Senate's and unions' procedures for insuring high levels of professionalism on campus.

  •      Send swift and clear messages about consequences of inappropriate behavior
    Inform the campus community in summary format of consequences when faculty or staff members violate their standards and expectations. The campus community should know in advance the potential consequences of violations and the results when actual violations occur.

  •      Empower students to govern themselves
    Insure that students feel ownership in the campus' governance processes by seeking active student involvement in a variety of levels of decision making (departments, schools/colleges, and university-wide).

  •      Create a more just system for enforcing rules and regulations in the residence halls

  •      Be more consistent in our expectations of students and the enforcement of standards in the residence halls

  •      Involve the residents in enforcing the standards and re-consider the role of the RA as "law enforcement"

  •      Empower students to govern themselves more fully in the halls and on campus
    Get residence hall councils back to being a mechanism for self-governance within the residence halls. In addition to building community through programming, they need to be involved in helping the community to enforce their standards.


  •      Publish faculty and staff standards in employee handbook
    Clarify what is expected of faculty and staff as members of this campus community. Also include other information that faculty and staff need to know (policies, programs, services) so that they can better serve students and be more informed members of the campus community.


Caring Community
"A college or university is a caring community, a place where the well-being of each member is sensitively supported and where service to others is encouraged." (Boyer, 1990)

We must become a community within which we make it very clear that we support, respect, and care about the well-being of one another and in which service to others is promoted and encouraged. As universities have become larger, they have found it difficult to avoid becoming impersonal and bureaucratic. Our challenge then is to recreate the sense of mutually reinforcing community that characterized our past and must again become a part of our future. Therefore, to create a more caring community at UConn, we recommend the following:

  •      Improve the academic advising process
    Ensure that all students have a connection with at least one person who can advise and mentor them. Train more members of the campus community to fulfill this role effectively. Develop peer-advising programs so all freshmen can be paired with an upper-class mentor during their first semester. Enhance the quality and frequency of the advisor/student relationship so the academic experience is more personally meaningful for students. Also, do a better job of educating faculty and Graduate Teaching Assistants of the many support services available to students on campus so more appropriate referrals can be made.

  •      Be empathetic
    Make it part of the University's mission and one of its stated objectives to be a campus that cares about students and all members of the community. If this sense of service is an explicit part of the mission, it becomes a personal expectation. If we create a more caring environment in which faculty and staff feel valued, they will be more likely to care about students.

  •      Hire people who believe serving students is a part of their educational obligations

  •      Make this part of job expectations

  •      Reward faculty and staff for connecting with students
    If this principle is important, it must be rewarded in a systematic and ongoing manner. Explore ways to send a clear signal to our faculty and staff that outstanding service to students and connecting with students is important to us as an institution. Exceptional service in this area must be rewarded in a public way.

  •      Find ways to show appreciation to all staff
    The best way to show appreciation is to include staff. All staff should be encouraged to attend awards ceremonies and convocation. Address issues of inequity and perceptions of differences in status and value to the institution. Encourage departments and units to develop programmatic approaches to staff development, including release time to allow access to University events and attendance at workshops, etc.

  •      Streamline our bureaucratic/operating systems and implement a paperwork reduction policy
    Involve support staff in making our systems less cumbersome and make it easier to get things done. Make it easier for students as they conduct their business and access services as well as for the staff who have to process all the paperwork. The Wilbur Cross/student service center project and the Center for Undergraduate Education are beginnings, but we need to do more to streamline our systems and jettison unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy.


  •      Use scholarship opportunities for retaining outstanding returning students
    Make student scholarships a primary and stated focus of the upcoming capital campaign. Send a signal to students that the University does care enough to enlist others in making college more affordable. Increase the number of merit scholarships to "late blooming" students, who have excelled academically while on campus and have been among our most enthusiastic and hardworking learners, but who were not at the top of their high school class and did not receive extremely high SAT scores.

  •      Enhance/Increase student-to-student mentor programs
    Increase opportunities for more students to serve as paraprofessionals and peer advisors to their fellow students (i.e. in the residence halls, as tutors, as advisors for co-curricular involvement, as educators on health education issues, for first year students, etc.). Also, involve graduate students in mentoring/paraprofessional programs for undergraduates. Modify our policy to permit graduate students to serve as advisors to student clubs and organizations.

  •      Provide better connections for students with University Leadership
    Continue efforts to de-mystify upper administration and allow students to view university leaders as real people who listen to and care about students. Provide opportunities for university leaders to interact with students and develop greater face/name recognition among the general student population, (i.e. roundtable discussions, forums, open door policies, student advisory groups).

Celebrative Community
"A college or university is a celebrative community, one in which the heritage of the institution is remembered and where rituals affirming both tradition and change are widely shared." (Boyer, 1990)

As an institution characterized both by ancient traditions and by ongoing significant achievements, the University has much to celebrate. By coming together to recognize both significant events in the life of the University and individual accomplishments, we can manifest what it is that we as a community most cherish and respect. In the process, we will build a greater sense of a community by sharing regularly in recognizing the events that mark the growth of the University and its individual members. Therefore, to create a more celebrative community at UConn, we recommend the following:

  •      Suggestions for the future of Spring Weekend and other celebrations of Spring
    All celebrations must promote safety and the acceptable behavior of all members of the community. In order to accomplish this, we recommend the following:

  •      Commit to a significant and broad-based effort to investigate, plan, and implement a Spring concert. This effort should reflect a commitment from key parties, including SUBOG and University administrators, as well as an effort to regularly update the University community on the feasibility, process and status of the event.

  •      Encourage the continuation of small, independent community events, such as the area council carnivals, which foster a safe and celebrative environment; support the initiation of similar independent community events that reflect the larger vision and purpose of the entire campus community.

  •      Increase open communication between public safety personnel and students, prior to any community celebration, about the parameters of acceptable behavior and the consequences and potential actions for handling any disturbances.

  •     Enhance Celebrations of Achievement
    Re-evaluate how we recognize the achievements of our student leaders, student scholars, student athletes, and active citizens in our campus community (and how we recognize the achievements and contributions of our faculty and staff).

  •      Encourage more campus-wide celebrations of achievement (this may require letting go of exclusive ownership so the community can "own" the celebration).

  •      Find ways to be more efficient, effective, and inclusive in our recognition programs (and create new recognition programs where none exist).

  •      Develop a better "Years of Service" Recognition Program. Publicly acknowledge sustained service to the University through some form of formal recognition (for faculty and staff - - including support staff). Perhaps, consider a campus-wide recognition for milestone years of service. Also, improve the way we recognize retired faculty and staff (in a more public way).

  •      Identify and more formally establish campus traditions and promote them
    Engage students in identifying traditions that are meaningful to them and in building traditions that are meaningful to the entire University i.e. Midnight Breakfast, start a Madrigal Dinner program. Discover what traditions currently exist for our students. Promote and institutionalize them and create new traditions where they are lacking. Teach things like the alma mater (update it?!) and the fight song.

  •      Continue efforts to enhance student connectedness with athletics
    Invite students to sit in the good seats at basketball games (instead of donors - - even for just one game). Perhaps do a "shuffle of seats" during half time of basketball games where the President, Chancellor, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Student Board members go into the upper student section and trade seats with randomly selected students for the second half. Also, we should encourage the practice of having student athletes and coaches interact with the rest of the student body. Explore ways to build greater connectedness between students and our athletic teams.

  •      Encourage the recognition of the contributions of student athletes to our campus community

  •      Show appreciation for all student athletes in all sports

  •      Find ways to effectively involve students in UConn athletic events in Hartford


  •      Develop a tradition of new students "signing in" at their opening convocation
    As part of the ceremony, have new students receive some symbol of entrance into the University community. Also, find a way for every student to shake hands with either the President or Chancellor at the conclusion of the opening convocation (or host a cookout or reception for new students at the President's home, involving others as hosts). Make it a tradition to sing the Alma Mater at Convocation and Commencement.

  •      Institutionalize an annual coming together of University faculty and staff
    Whether it is a "state of the University" event or a faculty/staff convocation, find a way to bring our faculty and staff together at least once annually. Use this opportunity to recognize some of the outstanding achievements of distinguished faculty AND staff (be sure professional and support staff are treated like full participants and not afterthoughts).

  •      Treat Students as Dignitaries
    Include more students at the podium and as dignitaries for building dedications and other official university functions. (Invite students to attend athletic and cultural events as guests of board members and University administrators.)

  •      Create a more welcoming environment inside the University buildings
    Create gathering places in the various renovation projects and create a more aesthetically pleasing interior dcor in residence halls and academic buildings. Provide an annual fund that allows for painting of murals and changing interiors to reflect the spirit of the University. Include student representation, with full voting rights, on all committees dealing with the interior aesthetics of our buildings.

  •      Establish a student event hospitality fund
    Set aside funds that can be requested by faculty and staff who wish to host a social event for students (end of semester pizza parties, spring cook-outs, etc).

  •      Publicize and promote the good things students do
    Develop a more comprehensive system for sending hometown press releases describing academic and non-academic accomplishments of students. Develop better messages about student achievement through ads and other mechanisms that highlight accomplishments. Encourage more University leaders to send notes of praise.

  •      Involve Alumni more in celebrations of community
    Invite successful Alumni to speak at Convocation. Use successful alumni as role models for students and use them to create a collective pride toward the University.


This Interim Report completes the first chapter in the work of the Chancellor's Special Task Force on Community and Civility. We hope that the circulation of this set of preliminary proposals will generate significant feedback, which will lead to both the amendment and augmentation of these suggestions. We would hope that most of our initial recommendations would be so easy to embrace that the University would begin immediately to implement them and start the process of changing our campus culture. We are confident that the Metanoia, known as Husky Renaissance, which will be held in April, will spawn additional constructive ideas.

We recommend the following as next steps for this Task Force:

  • Distribute this report widely and clarify its contents

  • Solicit feedback on these specific recommendations from our entire campus community (on and off campus)

  • Engage other members of our community in refining this portion of our effort

  • Assist the Chancellor in assigning responsibility for the implementation of specific recommendations as they are accepted

  • Continue the dialog about community both within the Task Force and around campus

  • Invite others to join in the implementation of these changes in our campus culture (by reconstituting or expanding the Task Force and through other inclusive initiatives)

  • Develop strategies for monitoring and evaluating our progress

  • Evaluate what occurs on and off campus during formal and informal celebrations of Spring at UConn in 1999

We recognize that the work of creating a more civil campus community has only begun and that this work will continue long after this Task Force has ceased to exist. We hope that all members of the UConn community will join in this on-going effort.


Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Campus Life: In Search of Community, Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1990.

Top of the page
Appendix A - Chancellor's Letter
Appendix B - Committee members
Appendix C - Focus Groups
Appendix D - Acknowledgements