The Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office recently filled two key leadership positions as it expands with a more prominent focus on prevention and support efforts, while continuing to investigate sexual misconduct and discrimination at the University of Michigan.
ECRT Executive Director Tamiko Strickman said hiring a director of the new Prevention, Education, Assistance and Resources unit and a deputy Title IX coordinator for Michigan Medicine are key to moving the office forward.
“Filling these important positions will allow us to bring to life a much-sharper focus on prevention efforts, education and support as we continue to review all allegations of sexual misconduct and discrimination brought against any member of our university community,” Strickman said.
ECRT staff members also have been actively gathering campus feedback on the structure of the unit to determine what would be the most helpful approach for students, leaders and units to build out robust education, programming and training efforts, Strickman said. The expansion of ECRT and other changes are informed by recommendations from the nationally recognized consultants at Guidepost Solutions.
“It’s critical that we keep moving forward with this new unit and its much larger focus on support and prevention to help move our community past the collective trauma we’ve all been experiencing,” Strickman said.
Leading this critical new unit within ECRT will be Kaaren Williamsen, who has been director of U-M’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center since 2017. She will continue in her SAPAC leadership role through the end of the winter term as she begins to transition to her broader responsibilities.
“I am genuinely excited about the opportunity this new position provides to build even better support and prevention efforts on top of the solid foundation of work by units like SAPAC, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, Organizational Learning, the Spectrum Center, and many others across our campus,” Williamsen said.
She said she will continue to work collaboratively across the university community as she begins to build out the new PEAR structure. That includes hiring at least four additional staff members with the goal of being fully functional by the time classes resume in the fall.
Strickman said Williamsen will come into her new role with a strong record of innovation and collaboration throughout a career focused on addressing the harm caused by sexual misconduct. She has been deeply involved in U-M’s most recent misconduct policy revisions and has been part of the team working with consultants from Guidepost Solutions to implement a wide range of recommendations related to sexual and gender-based misconduct.
Williamsen came to U-M from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania where she was the Title IX coordinator. Earlier in her career she spent 15 years directing the Gender and Sexuality Center at Carleton College. As the founding director, she developed innovative sexual violence prevention programming and created institutional support services for LGBTQ students.
She earned her doctorate in organizational leadership, policy and development at the University of Minnesota. She has a Master of Science degree in women’s studies and a Master of Arts degree in counseling and student personnel psychology.
Deputy Title IX coordinator, Michigan Medicine
Serving in this new role for Michigan Medicine is Christopher Harris, who comes to U-M from Penn State University where he was its Title IX coordinator. In that role, he worked closely with the Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health, the university’s health system.
“I look forward to collaborating with faculty, staff and patients at Michigan Medicine to address concerns and to develop new prevention programs,” Harris said. “Having one clear point person in the health care environment will help us address any concerns quickly.”
Strickman said Harris’ new role, with its focus on Michigan Medicine, is important, in part, because current federal Title IX regulations require the university to use specific procedures to address sexual misconduct complaints involving patients and physicians.
She said Harris would work closely with Michigan Medicine leaders to review any reports of misconduct and to develop new prevention and education programs.
Harris, an attorney, earlier in his career also served as a Title IX investigator with Penn State’s Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response. In addition to his work in Title IX, Harris served as a student conduct officer at Penn State and at Ohio University, where he served as the director of student conduct.
Harris received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master of Arts degree from Shippensburg University, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.