Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue



The Commission for Blacks is a body appointed by the Chancellor to advise on planning, implementation, and evaluation of university programs, policies, and services designed to improve the status of Black and African American people on the Knoxville campus. The Commission, in its role as an advocacy group, is committed to the protection and advancement of Black and African American students, faculty, and staff at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.


The Commission:

  • Shall assess on a continuing basis the status of individuals who are not in the primary racial/ethnic group on the campus;
  • Shall serve as a channel for improving human relations on the campus;
  • Shall recommend changes in or additions to existing policies and procedures that are relevant to ethnic minorities;
  • Shall make suggestions concerning the coordination of new and existing academic and extracurricular programs impacting ethnic minorities;
  • Shall recommend and encourage research to identify and address the concerns, problems and progress of the racial climate on campus;
  • Shall aid in communicating the interests of ethnic minorities throughout the University community and encourage minority involvement in all aspects of campus life;
  • Shall advise and consult with all University officials on the concerns, needs, and status of minority individuals; and,
  • Shall provide information to the campus and community on Commission and University activities.


The Commission shall consist of a proportionate number of faculty, staff (exempt and non-exempt), students (undergraduate and graduate), and external community members (ideally 2 of each) as voting members. Membership shall be distributed among the various colleges, schools and administrative units of the University. The Chairs of the Commission, hereafter referred to as Chair, will forward nominations to the Chancellor, who shall appoint the Commission annually.


Ex-officio membership will also be made available to the following administrators, chairs, representatives or respective designees:

The Office of the Chancellor
The Office of the Provost
The Office of Equity and Diversity
Dean of Students
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
President of Faculty Senate
Chair/Co-chair of Black Faculty and Staff Association
President of Black Alumni Council
Chair Council on Diversity and Interculturalism
Chair Commission for Women
Chair Commission for LGBT People
Graduate Student Senate Representative
University Athletics Department
Exempt Staff Council
Employee Relations Advisory Board

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee shall be comprised of the CFB Chair and two Vice Chairs, Chairpersons of standing committees, two commissioners elected to serve in this capacity. As necessary, this committee shall schedule and conduct regular monthly meetings prior to the regular Commission meetings. The Chair will facilitate the meetings through face-to-face interactions, a conference call, or email.

Chair and Vice Chairs

The Chair and two Vice Chairs will be identified through an election process of the CFB. The individual who is selected by the CFB will be presented to the Chancellor for the final decision/appointment. The Chair and Vice Chairs shall be appointed on a biennial basis, and together will lead the Commission. The Chair and Vice Chairs may serve consecutive terms, based on the election and appointment process outlined above.

Key duties/responsibilities shall include:

  • Develop agenda(s) for Executive Committee and Commission for Blacks meetings;
  • Attend commission meetings;
  • Serve (or appoint a designee) as ex-officio member of the Commission for Women, Commission for LGBT People, Council on Diversity and Interculturalism;
  • Serve as ex-officio of all Standing Committees;
  • Solicit volunteers for membership to the Commission;
  • Serve as managing editor of BLACK@UT newsletter;
  • Develop and submit reports, as requested;
  • Maintain website, Listserv, Twitter, Facebook, and Trace information (as appropriate);
  • Supervise Graduate Assistant.

Immediate Past Chair or Vice Chair(s)

The Immediate Past Chair or Vice Chair(s) role shall be the Chair or Vice Chair(s) whose appointment has just been completed, and shall last for one calendar year. The Immediate Past Chair does not require additional appointment/approval.

Chairperson of Standing Committee

The Chair and Vice Chair(s) will appoint a Chairperson for each Standing Committee, and ad hoc committees as needed. All committee members shall be Commissioners who volunteer to serve on an active basis. The Chairperson of a Standing Committee shall serve as appointed, on an annual basis.

Standing Committees

Commissioners are expected to serve on, and actively participate in, one to three of the following standing committees:

Faculty and Staff Interest Committee

  • Work with senior leadership to evaluate, develop, and implement methods to assess and enhance the campus climate.
  • Develop communication channels, including forums and town hall discussions, to identify and discuss concerns;
  • Develop written documentation of identified concerns and associated recommendations to CFB for consideration and vote.
  • Develop dissemination plans for CFB accepted recommendations.

Student Interest Committee

  • Work with senior leadership to evaluate, develop, and implement methods to assess and enhance the campus climate for students’;
  • Develop communication channels, including forums and town hall discussions, to identify and discuss concerns regarding students;
  • Develop written documentation of identified concerns and associated recommendations to CFB for consideration and vote;
  • Develop dissemination plans for CFB accepted recommendations.

Communications Committee

  • Serve as a conduit by communicating the goals, actions, and outcomes of the Commission with the campus community, and greater Knoxville African American community as appropriate;
  • Maintain and facilitate the Trailblazer Series;
  • Conduct programming that will promote university/community dialogue;
  • Develop a process for receiving and addressing community concerns;
  • Advise the Chairs and CFB of community concerns.
  • Assist with BLACK@UT newsletter and publication;
  • Assist with maintenance of website; and,
  • Assist with publicity of events sponsored by the Commission
  • Keep the commission up to date regarding conversations occurring throughout the campus. This includes conversations happening with other commissions and organizations as it relates to CFB; 
  • Work with the GRA on listservs and social media platform announcements. 

Community and Engagement Committee

  • Serve as a welcome committee for staff and faculty members of color;
  •  Create small “swag” bags for new employees.

Awards Committee

  • Administer the nomination process for the Hardy Liston, Jr. Symbol of Hope Award, and the Gene Mitchell Gray Pioneer Award given at the annual Chancellor’s Honors Banquet;
  • Create and maintain a process for receiving and making determinations about sponsorship, including funding requests for campus activities;
  • Coordinate the African American Hall of Fame Award recognition to highlight significant accomplishments of Black faculty, staff, students and administrators; and,
  • Assist with the selection of the Carl Cowan scholarship recipients.

Bylaws Committee

  • Responsible for updating the bylaws to reflect growing needs of the Commission; and,
  • Ensure bylaws adhere to Roberts Rules of Order.


All committees will meet at least one (1) time during the semester. Each Chairperson of a Standing Committee will provide a written summary of committee activities to the Commission.

Ad hoc committees shall be formed, as needed, and given goals or tasks as outlined by the Commission or Commission Chairs.

Graduate Assistant

The Chair and Chair-elect in coordination with the Chair and Chair-elect of the Council for Diversity and Interculturalism shall select a graduate assistant to aid the Commission by attending and taking notes at Commission meetings, disseminating information to the Commission, and performing other tasks assigned by the Chair and Chair-elect. This graduate assistant shall have a fifty percent appointment, including a fee waiver, and shall be supported by the Office of the Chancellor.



The Commission shall schedule regular monthly meetings at a time to be agreed upon at the beginning of each semester. Additional meetings shall be scheduled as needed. The agenda at these meetings shall be determined by the Commission and may include items requested by UT senior leadership, a member of the faculty, staff, or student body, or of any member of the UT Knoxville community with an idea or issue which might require attention. All meetings shall be open to any member of the UT Knoxville community. A quorum is constituted by the number of commissioners present, but shall not be less than five (5) appointed Commissioners.

Rules of Order

The meetings of the Commission shall be conducted in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order.


The Commission for Blacks, being an advisory body, shall be provided with an operating budget to cover such expenses as telephone service, graduate assistant, web maintenance, the newsletter, programming, and other miscellaneous operating expenses. Funds may also be used to support campus activities aimed at improving the presence of Blacks and African Americans and/or diversity and inclusion initiatives on campus.


These bylaws shall be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Commission, taken by a ballot or via email, and may be amended by a similar vote taken at a subsequent regularly scheduled meeting. Both bylaws and amendments shall become effective upon receipt of a majority vote.