President Donald Christian recently announced that the new position of executive director for Compliance and Campus Climate has been filled.
“There was a search committee that helped craft the advertisement based on work the cabinet did defining the position,” Christian said. “The committee made recommendations and I met with each candidate on campus. [I] made my decision on the basis of the committee’s inputs and my judgments on the candidates.”
Chief of Staff Shelly Wright said current-Assistant Director of Human Resources at Vassar College Taneha Pacheco Dunn will start on June 18. Wright said that Dunn is preparing for the transition.
“She has [already] told her employer and her colleagues,” Wright said.
According to the job posting, The Campus Climate and Compliance Officer is responsible for monitoring applicable laws, regulations, policies and procedures that apply to Title IX concerning sexual assault, sexual harassment and hostile workplace issues. Dunn will also review Affirmative Action and New York state ethics legislation violations.
Meanwhile, Dunn said her background in Human Resources and law will guide her in the new role. She said it’s hard to say what this new role will mean for New Paltz until she “gets to know the campus.”
“At least in my first year, getting to know the campus and its unique culture,” she said. “Getting to reach out and [know] all of the constituencies. This takes time [which] I enjoy doing. I’m looking forward to the challenges.”
Dunn said she will bring with her a creative energy and a desire to learn.
Dunn will report directly to the president’s office. She will have the power to “oversee and synchronize campus responses” by coordinating Affirmative Action and ethics workshops, yet she can also receive “logistical support” from the Division of Student Affairs and Office of Human Resources and Affirmative Action, according to the job posting.
The officer position was recently created stemming from new state requirements.
“This is a new Management Confidential position…This position is mandated by new requirements from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education to meet its expectations for Title IX oversight and administration,” Christian said. “The OCR has established a requirement that campuses have a single point of contact for all inquiries about Title IX matters.”
In the past, there was a two-prong system of review based on the claim. Christian said Title IX matters “involving student complaints about another student” went through the Division of Student Affairs, while those “involving a complaint by either a student or employee about an employee” went to, and were evaluated by the Office of Human Resources and Affirmative Action.
Christian said the campus climate issues for students and faculty require “more thorough attention” especially after the racial postings that occurred last fall. According to Christian, Dunn will work closely with the coordination of future fora, similar to the “Can We Talk About It?” held concerning the issue of racism.
Christian said that the campus environment needs to be responsive to these kinds of challenges and to also adhere to the regulations that come from the state.
“We also must recognize that we live in an era of compliance that demands that we properly staff such needs, and take other steps to ensure the learning and working environment that exemplifies New Paltz,” he said.
Christian has expressed confidence in Dunn’s ability to be an effective member of the campus community.
“She is committed to the principles of equity and diversity and inclusiveness that we want to have the person in this position continue to advance,” he said. “She has a reputation among her colleges for being a thoughtful problem solver and has experience working with difficult and contentious issues.”
* This article was updated on 4/28/12