KNOXVILLE— In response to the recommendations of a special independent commission appointed to review and address Title IX compliance, the University of Tennessee has launched a national search for a Title IX coordinator with system-wide oversight.
UT President Joe DiPietro appointed the independent commission in September 2016 and in its June 2017 report, creation of the new coordinator position was the “most significant structural recommendation.”
As a system-level coordinating presence, the position will carry responsibilities including tracking best practices and legal developments; collaborating with other UT Title IX officials in policy evaluation and development; measuring program effectiveness; identifying optimal training, prevention and awareness-building efforts and resources for their implementation; and annual reporting on the frequency and nature of incidents and complaints.
“When the commission released its report in June, it acknowledged our focus on increasing awareness and understanding of sexual misconduct policies and procedures toward prevention and responding effectively when incidents occur,” DiPietro said. “It also identified opportunities for improvement in some aspects of our Title IX program and, toward that, this new position has been created to ensure that every UT campus has access to the programs and resources necessary to make our approach uniformly gold-standard across the statewide UT system.”
The commission, comprised of four nationally-recognized experts in Title IX compliance, conducted a detailed review of existing policies, protocols and resources system-wide. The group reviewed documents; conducted 65 interviews and follow-up conversations with 52 administrators and staff; hosted a series of focus group discussions and listening sessions with students on campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin; and met multiple times without any official UT presence.
UT General Counsel Matthew Scoggins said Title IX officials throughout the University system have been analyzing the commission’s recommendations for the past six weeks. On Aug. 8, UT Knoxville announced the appointment of Ashley Blamey, longtime director of the campus’ Center for Health, Education and Wellness, as its new Title IX coordinator. Blamey also will serve dually as interim UT System Title IX coordinator until the national search can fill the position permanently.
“Creation of the system-level Title IX coordinator position helps us maintain momentum and responds to what the commission referred to as its ‘most significant structural recommendation,’ ” Scoggins said.
“In the interim, I anticipate that Title IX officials across the system will benefit from Ashley’s knowledge, experience and support, particularly with respect to the efforts to prevent sexual violence, relationship violence and stalking.”
The system-wide Title IX coordinator position will report to the Office of Audit and Compliance.
The four-person search committee includes Scoggins; Michael Alston, assistant vice chancellor for equity, diversity and student rights at the UT Health Science Center; Stephanie Rowland, Title IX director for UT Chattanooga; and committee chair Sandy Jansen, executive director of the UT Office of Audit and Compliance.
The committee met for the first time Aug. 16. Information about the search is available on a dedicated website at tennessee.edu/execsearch/title-ix-coordinator/.
The University of Tennessee is the state’s land-grant higher education institution and flagship public university. It is comprised of campuses at Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Martin; the Health Science Center at Memphis; the Space Institute at Tullahoma; and the statewide Institute of Agriculture and Institute for Public Service. The UT System has a presence in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties and, through the combined force of its education, research, and outreach, the University serves students, business and industry, schools, governments, organizations, and citizens throughout the state.