Announcement of New Title IX Coordinator

Dear Members of the Swarthmore Community,

It is with great pleasure that I share the news with you that Kaaren Williamsen, currently director of the Gender and Sexuality Center and Title IX deputy coordinator at Carleton College, will be joining Swarthmore as our new Title IX coordinator, beginning July 7, 2014.

Kaaren brings a profound understanding of Title IX to this position and has established a national network and reputation for her work in the prevention and education of sexual assault. She is universally described as an exquisite listener, a collaborative partner, and someone whom students, faculty, and staff alike find approachable and accessible.

Abigail Henderson '14, a member of our Title IX coordinator search committee, says, "Words cannot express the relief, confidence, and excitement with which I welcome Kaaren to our campus. I believe she will work passionately every day to help this campus become a safer, more gender-equitable place and will be an administrator who students can trust. She knows the law and she knows what she is doing, and she is able to explain things clearly and concisely. She listens to and connects with students well, and not just one specific type of student. I strongly encourage every student to reach out to her and get to know her in her first few months here-it will be well worth your time."

Kaaren is the founding director of Carleton's Gender and Sexuality Center where since 2001 she has developed innovative sexual violence prevention programming including peer education, comprehensive sexuality education, men's groups, survivor support, new student orientation and FemSex/MSex, a student-led, no-credit course on health sexuality. She has also been responsible for Carleton's training programs related to sexual assault and harassment. In addition to her many contributions related to Title IX, Kaaren has also created institutional support services for LGBTQ students including peer mentor programs, support groups, campus education, peer education, and professional development for faculty and staff.

Kaaren says, "Many colleges and universities are struggling to respond to sexual harassment and assault on campus, and while Swarthmore has had its challenges, I was immediately impressed by the openness, thoughtfulness, and campus-wide dedication to the issue of getting this right. It takes a team effort to create supportive, fair, and appropriate responses to sexual assault and to create meaningful and robust prevention programs. I am delighted to join this team and am excited for the work we will do together."

Kaaren received a B.A. in honors philosophy from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. She received an M.A. in counseling and student personnel psychology from the University of Minnesota, as well as an M.S. in women's studies from Minnesota State University. She is presently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, where her dissertation will focus on campus conduct response to student sexual misconduct.

Beth Kotarski, director of the Worth Health Center and a member of the search committee says, "I'm thrilled beyond words that Kaaren will be joining our team. Her vision of gender equity and her meaningful work in the field of restorative justice make me believe she is the best fit for our community. While one person alone cannot create a campus culture shift, I think Kaaren has a rare blend of academic and practical experience to continue to guide us to that best place. She has a solid track record in asking the right questions, setting up the right supports, and creating the best learning environment in which all community members can be free to pursue their goals."

My deep appreciation goes to each member of the search committee who gave so generously and tirelessly toward such a successful result-Nnenna Akotaobi, associate director of athletics and senior woman athletics administrator, Erik Cheever '82, professor of engineering, Nina Harris, violence prevention educator and advocate, Abigail Henderson '14, Beth Kotarski, director, Worth Health Center, Nancy Nicely, secretary of the College, and Theodore Noomah '16.

I also want to extend my deepest gratitude to Patricia Flaherty Fischette, who has served so ably in the role as our interim Title IX coordinator since last July. Patricia's steady, graceful, and sensitive style and expertise helped immeasurably as she lent support to survivors, led dozens of training sessions, and oversaw case management and institutional compliance. I will be forever grateful for her willingness to step in and provide such a caring and thoughtful approach to Title IX this past year. Patricia intends to resume her work as a counselor in Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) this fall. She is also working towards a doctorate in social work at Bryn Mawr College.

Kaaren joins a strong, committed group of colleagues at Swarthmore dedicated to being at the forefront of support for sexual assault victims, as well as the creation of innovative prevention and education programming and the adoption of fair policies and adjudication. She will bring thoughtful leadership, imaginative programming, and a highly collaborative spirit when she joins us in July. I know you will help me welcome her to Swarthmore as we continue this good and important work together.


Rebecca Chopp