The Commission for Blacks is a body appointed by the Chancellor to advise on planning, implementation, and evaluation of university programs, policies, and services as they relate to Black students, faculty and staff. The Commission reports to the Office of the Chancellor.
The Commission for Blacks recommends changes in or additions to university policies and procedures to reflect concerns specific to blacks. The group also makes suggestions for new and existing academic and extracurricular programs related to blacks; encourages research to identify the problems and progress of blacks on campus; and encourages black faculty, staff and student involvement in all aspects of campus life.
CFB Rally Statement, Resources, and Counter-Events
The Commission for Blacks is committed to the protection and retention of Black and African American students, faculty, and staff at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The Commission for Blacks seeks to enhance the campus racial climate and provide a space where a civil discourse around issues of race, racism, and biases can occur in our roles as faculty, staff, and students. We stand in solidarity with colleagues at the University of Virginia as they strive to offer a civil and secure climate to their campus community in the aftermath of violent protests spurred by White supremacy, racism, anti-semitism, and racial hatred.
We join the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in condemning racism in all its forms and will work with others throughout the campus and the nation in the call to eradicate hate, injustice, and racial violence. We remind everyone as to the importance of using our educational institutions as a means of “studying, analyzing, and broadly communicating about” patterns and structures associated with White supremacy, racism, antisemitism, religious persecution, homophobia, and xenophobia. As scholars at UTK continue to contribute to our understanding of the inequities within our educational institutions, we will support the dissemination of the “knowledge and evidence” that supports “understanding and respect of others” while disrupting “the divisive patterns of disparity and denigration.” The Commission for Blacks sets as our goal for UTK that “No one should leave our classrooms or campuses believing that the symbols of oppression and killing are mere logos.”
Local Mental Health Resources:
University of Tennessee Student Health Counseling Center (865) 974-2251
Employee Assistance Program (855) 437-3486
List of Educational Resources:
Call for CFB Membership
If you are interested in being a part of the Commission for Blacks (CFB), we invite you complete the online membership interest form for the 2016-2017 academic year.
The Commission consists faculty, staff, students, and external community members. Members are appointed by the Chancellor on an annual basis.
If you are a currently serving member of the commission and have an interest in continuing your membership with the Commission or if you are interested in getting involved with the Commission for the first time, please complete the form for consideration for membership appointment on the Commission. Deadline for submitting the membership interest form is May 15, 2016.
2017-18 Trailblazer Award Series: Spruell Driver, Jr.
Spruell Driver, Jr. has been inspired by the Volunteer Spirit from the time he enrolled as a freshman in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville engineering scholarship program headed by the late Fred D. Brown, Jr. Former UT Knoxville Chancellor Loren Crabtree once described Driver as “a man who is a ‘volunteer’ in the truest sense of the word. He has given of himself to the university and to the state of Tennessee since graduation, and we are proud to call him one of our own.”
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Driver earned his B.S.I.E. degree, with high honors, from the UT Knoxville Tickle College of Engineering in 1987, and was named a Torchbearer, UT’s highest student honor. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Duke University Law School in 1991.
Upon graduating from law school, Driver continued his service to UT by volunteering for alumni chapter activities in Kingsport (Sullivan County), and later in Nashville (Davidson County). From 1998 to 2003, Driver served on the UT Knoxville College of Engineering Board of Advisors. In 2000, Driver was appointed to the Board of Governors for the UT National Alumni Association (UTNAA). He served as UTNAA Treasurer for 2002-2003. In 2004, Driver became President of the UTNAA, becoming the first African American to lead the association in its then 168-year history. As President, he traveled throughout the state and beyond representing the university’s then approximately 300,000 alumni. Driver served as National Chair of Annual Giving for 2005-2006, and he continued serving on the UT Alumni Association Board of Governors until 2014.
In October 2005, Governor Phil Bredesen appointed Driver to the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees. In June 2011, Governor Bill Haslam reappointed Driver to a second term on the UT Board. As the longest serving member on the current Board, Driver is Chair of the Trusteeship Committee, and he serves on the Executive and Compensation Committee, the Health Affairs Committee, and the Athletics Committee. During his tenure on the Board, Driver has also chaired the Academic Affairs and Student Success Committee, and the Advancement and Public Affairs Committee. Driver also served on the UT Foundation Board of Directors from 2011 – 2014.
Driver began his legal career in 1991 as a Corporate Attorney with Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tennessee. Upon joining Eastman’s Legal Department, Driver became the first African American attorney in the company’s then 70 year history, as well as the first African American attorney in Kingsport. He later returned home to Nashville where he worked both in private practice and in state government. Driver enjoyed the privilege of serving as Special Counsel for Speaker Jimmy Naifeh (UT Knoxville ’61) of the Tennessee House of Representatives, and as a director of the Judicial Education and Program Services Division of the Administrative Office of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Driver also enjoyed working as a transactional attorney with three of Tennessee’s largest and most respected law firms.
Driver’s professional and community service and honors have included: President of the Napier-Looby Bar Association; Fellow of the Tennessee Bar Foundation and the Nashville Bar Foundation; 2014 Equal Justice Campaign Cabinet Member for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands; Leadership Nashville Class of 2013; Member of the Nashville Bar Association Board of Directors; Member of the Nashville Bar Foundation Board of Trustees; Gene Mitchell Gray Pioneer Award from the UT Knoxville Commission for Blacks; and Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Driver is currently a Contract Officer in the office of Sponsored Programs Administration with Vanderbilt University, where he serves the university and its faculty in research contract and compliance matters. He and his wife, Elaine (Willis) Driver (UT Knoxville ’85), have two children, Elise and Spruell III, and they are members of Lee Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where Driver serves on the Trustee Board.
The Trailblazer Award is dedicated to recognizing and honoring the accomplishments of African Americans affiliated with the University of Tennessee that are trailblazers in their disciplines or within the fields of diversity, inclusion, and social justice. The Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Commission for Blacks jointly organizes the speaking series.
Click here for more information on the 2017-18 Trailblazer Series.