On Friday, Nov. 15, a mass e-mail informed the Amherst College community of the hiring of a full-time Title IX Coordinator. Just the day before, Angie Epifano and another former Amherst student filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education on the basis of mishandling their sexual assault cases.
Many have voiced, then, that the announcement of the new hire came at a convenient time.
The new Title IX Coordinator, Laurie Frankl, will be taking over Suzanne Coffey’s current responsibilities. Along with her Title IX responsibilities, Coffey is the director of Athletics. This mingling of roles has caused many to strictly associate Title IX rights with sports. However, according to the Amherst site, “Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (‘Title IX’) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.” In the online description for candidates interested in applying for the Title IX Coordinator position, the following responsibilities were listed: “oversee Title IX compliance, monitor compliance with all College policies, including the Policy on Prohibited Harassment, Sexual Misconduct and Discrimination, coordinate the Title IX team, manage cases and respond to inquiries from students, faculty, staff and administrators regarding the policy and rights and responsibilities under the policy, coordinate training and education related to Title IX, oversee the management of the outside investigator/fact finder to ensure prompt, thorough, objective and confidential investigations of complaints of harassment, including sexual misconduct and discrimination, work collaboratively with the Deputy Title IX Officer in Student Affairs, the Dean of Faculty’s Office and Human Resources to ensure informed and consistent communication in policy implementation, provide oversight of investigations and grievance procedures for complaints of alleged harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination, stay abreast of regulations and statues and changes and informs the College of implementation requirements and prepare reports on Title IX compliance efforts and complaint activity and make recommendations for action to the Chief Policy/General Counsel and appropriate decision makers.”
The search for a new, full-time Title IX Coordinator began in June of this year. The search committee consisted of Chief Policy Officer and General Counsel Lisa H. Rutherford, Senior Associate Dean of Students and Coordinator of Academic Support Charri Boykin-East, Chief of Campus Police John Carter, Coffey, Dean of Students Jim Larimore, Interim Assistant Dean of Student Conduct Susie Mitton Shannon and Sexual Respect Educator Amanda Collings Vann.
The process consisted of two major rounds. After reviewing resumes and conducting telephone interviews in early August, the team held on-campus interviews for the chosen candidates. This was followed by open meetings wherein students could meet candidates.
The second round began in mid-October. By this point, the applicant pool had been expanded and final interviews were being executed. Just like during the second round, students were able to meet with candidates through much advertised lunches and campus tours. The students who participated were then asked to submit comments and/or feedback on the candidates.
“This process followed customary patterns for hiring similar positions at Amherst, e.g. national advertising, telephone interviews, followed by on-campus interviews and the solicitation of feedback from those who met the candidates. From the start we have been committed to hiring the best person for this important job,” Rutherford said.
According to the virtual announcement, Frankl comes from a background dealing with “victims of unlawful discrimination.” Prior to accepting Amherst’s offer, Frankl worked as the Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts. She specialized in civil rights cases and oversaw proper community training for law enforcement. Frankl’s educational background comprises a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire and a law degree from Suffolk Univ.
“I am really pleased that the College has hired Laurie Frankl as our new Title IX Coordinator. I have met with Laurie on several occasions including attending the Five College Title IX Coordinators Meeting with her last Friday. I am confident that our students will find Laurie knowledgeable, easy to speak with, a terrific listener and someone who is committed to action on the range of initiatives that will help Amherst move forward in confronting sexual harassment and misconduct,” Coffey said.
Frankl answers to Rutherford. She is to begin her new position on Dec. 6.
“I am very excited to get to work at Amherst,” Frankl said.