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Building A Respectful Workplace

February 16, 2012

To all Members of the University Community:

Shortly after the Day of Dialogue in the fall of 2010, I asked faculty and staff volunteers from across the University to serve on a Respectful Workplace Task Force that would look at the policies, structures, and resources necessary to support a culture of civility and respectful behavior at U.Va. With Susan Carkeek, Vice President for Human Resources, as chair, the task force of 26 faculty and staff members has worked diligently over this past year, researching best practices and identifying ways to build a more caring community. The task force members believe that to become best in class as a respectful workplace, we will need commitment from everyone working at all levels of the University.

The task force has created a website at to give all employees a central resource for creating a respectful workplace. Here you can learn about our Commitment to a Caring Community of Dignity and Respect, as well as respectful workplace guidelines, resources to help teach and reinforce respectful behaviors, and an incident-reporting system. This new reporting procedure includes a commitment to follow up within two business days.

We know that for most of us, the University is a supportive and respectful environment; the recent staff survey results bear this out. At the same time, we will take seriously and address complaints of disrespectful behavior. As president, I will hold myself accountable to the Commitment to a Caring Community, and I will expect all leaders at all levels of the University to do the same. We will not tolerate retaliation against an employee who reports an incident.

The respectful workplace initiative is just one component of the University's focus on building a caring community and improving communication, appreciation of differences, and safety. The task force has developed a motto--"A Caring Community Starts with Me." All of us should take responsibility for making this a caring community. Please take advantage of the new resources available. Together we can build a model of a caring community that befits a University already known for outstanding teaching, research, public service, and patient care.

Teresa A. Sullivan