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September 7, 2017

President Valerie Smith shared the following message with the community on September 7, 2017:

Dear Members of the Swarthmore Community,

With mixed emotions, I write to share the news that Kaaren Williamsen, Title IX Coordinator, has accepted the position of Director, Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) at the University of Michigan, effective Sept. 29.

In her new role, Kaaren will oversee the Center's work on prevention, crisis intervention, and advocacy, and will lead the development of comprehensive campus-wide activities, relationships, and internal and external partnerships that advance the work nationally and at the University of Michigan.  

Since she joined the Swarthmore community in 2014, Kaaren has been instrumental in strengthening the College’s Title IX efforts including compliance, adjudication, and education, having established a national network and reputation for her work in the prevention and education of sexual assault. Among her most notable achievements, she vastly improved the infrastructure supporting our Title IX efforts including the creation of a Title IX House, strengthened our processes for investigating and adjudicating cases, and updated our website and print materials. She also bolstered the direct involvement of students in support of Title IX initiatives, including the creation of the Student Title IX Advisory Team and the Title IX Liaison Team. Working closely with colleagues, she has also spearheaded efforts to educate students about how to engage in healthy relationships. Most recently, she was essential to the production of the It’s on Us video.

I am pleased to share that Michelle D. Ray, Case Manager/Grievance Advisor & Interim Director, Diversity Peer Advisor Program, and member of the Title IX Team, will serve as Interim Title IX Coordinator while we undertake a national search. Michelle spent a significant part of her career working at the University of Pennsylvania, serving as a Student Intervention Specialist for the Vice Provost of University Life Crisis Intervention Team, and the Director of Sansom Community Services.  She is also an experienced self defense instructor and long-time volunteer in Philadelphia with organizations such as Women Against Abuse and Women Organized Against Rape. I am deeply grateful for Michelle’s willingness to assume this role when Kaaren departs later this month. I know Michelle will bring the same sensitivity, compassion, and judiciousness to this role that she does to all her work. Now more than ever, the College remains committed to ensure a safe, supportive environment where all students can thrive. I know Michelle intends to build on the progress we have made in recent years towards that goal.

You will soon receive information about a farewell reception to honor Kaaren’s time at Swarthmore. Please join me in thanking her and wishing her all the best as she takes the next step on her professional journey.


Valerie Smith