OIE undergoes operational changes, launches leadership search


Over the course of the summer, the Office for Institutional Equity — the unit responsible for reviewing and investigating reports of harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct on the Ann Arbor campus — has gone through a number of changes designed to speed investigations and streamline operations.

Those changes include:

  • The office now reports directly to Provost Martin Philbert. Prior to May 1, OIE reported jointly to the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and University Human Resources.
  • Additional resources have been provided to the office, including additional staffing, and the implementation of a new database and case-management system to streamline its work.
  • Elizabeth Seney has been appointed the university’s Title IX coordinator in addition to her duties as senior associate director of OIE. Prior to Aug. 12, she served as interim Title IX coordinator and senior associate director for OIE.
  • This week, the Provost’s Office announced that the search for the next leader of OIE has been relaunched with the appointment of a search advisory committee. The position also has been reconfigured to an associate vice president for institutional equity to better reflect the broader scope of work. Leading the search committee is Christine Gerdes, special counsel to the provost.

The OIE leadership position originally was posted in January under the previous joint reporting structure to the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and University Human Resources. Since that time, OIE was moved to report directly to the Office of the Provost, and the position of Title IX coordinator was separated from the overall OIE leadership position to be more aligned with best practices in higher education.

Jeff Frumkin continues to serve as interim senior director of OIE, and Elizabeth Seney has taken on the duties of Title IX coordinator. She previously served OIE as deputy Title IX coordinator and continues to serve as OIE’s senior associate director in addition to Title IX coordinator. Earlier in her career she practiced law before joining OIE as an investigator in 2013. She is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and the University of Toledo College of Law.

“We are grateful to Jeff Frumkin and Elizabeth Seney for their leadership within OIE and we are eager to launch this important search now that we have refined the scope of the associate vice president position and have other key personnel in place,” Gerdes said.

“OIE plays a critical role in keeping our community safe and holding accountable those who discriminate or harass. It’s now our job to attract the best possible candidates to this position.”

The OIE team leads in the development of policies and educational efforts related to equity and antidiscrimination issues across the university community. OIE collaborates with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Human Resources; the Division of Student Life; Office of the General Counsel; university and local law enforcement; and other stakeholders in serving as a resource in the university’s commitment to diversity and equity.

The new associate vice president will be responsible for providing leadership and direction in support of diversity, inclusiveness, equal access, equitable treatment and cultural understanding and competency. The AVP also oversees and ensures compliance with affirmative action, equal opportunity, civil rights, and higher education laws and other federal and state laws.

The new leader will oversee the delivery of investigations, programming, educational opportunities and other services as well as work collaboratively with other university leaders on strategic planning, policy creation and other efforts to build a community rich in cultural understanding and an ethical work environment free from all forms of discrimination and harassment.

Assisting with the search will be Spelman Johnson, an executive search firm that specializes in higher education positions. Members of the search advisory committee also include:

  •  Joy Beatty, associate professor of management studies, College of Business, U-M Dearborn; and chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, the executive arm of central faculty governance.
  • David J. Brown, associate vice president and associate dean for health equity and inclusion at Michigan Medicine; professor of otolaryngology, Medical School.
  • Patricia Petrowski, associate vice president and deputy general counsel.
  • Kamaria Porter, Ph.D. candidate in the Center for the Study of Higher & Postsecondary Education; research assistant in the Department of Sociology.
  • Ryan Rich, student facilitator in the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.
  • Elizabeth Seney, senior associate director of OIE and Title IX coordinator.
  • Kaaren Williamsen, director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.
  • Timothy Wood, senior director of staff human resources services for compensation and classification, recruiting and employment services.

Anyone with questions or suggestions is asked to email OIE-dsac-chair@umich.edu.


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