La Sierra University has led North American Adventist institutions in implementing federal Title IX mandates, though as I reported in May, the institution's implementation was not without challenges. Within the first year of the university's opening its Title IX office, some students alleged that La Sierra was slow in responding to charges of sexual assault and that university leadership mishandled Title IX claims, leading to a website and petition urging change. Among the demands made by students and some university alumni was that La Sierra hire a full-time Title IX coordinator, something that La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey pledged to do. The coordinator's position was first instituted in July 2015 as a part-time post.
Now, about a month from the start of the 2016-2017 school year, La Sierra has announced the hiring of Riverside, California, resident Laurel E. Brown, PhD, to serve as full-time coordinator of La Sierra's Title IX office. The hiring will be effective starting September 1.
According to a release sent by La Sierra University's Public Relations Office, Brown was approved unanimously by La Sierra's Executive Committee on August 17. She was selected after a nation-wide search and interviews with several finalists, the release said.
The release also notes the significant CV Brown brings with her:
Brown holds a doctorate in social policy and research from Loma Linda University and a Master of Social Work in direct practice from the State University of New York, Albany. She is currently an adjunct faculty member at California State University, San Bernardino as a research supervisor for the Pathways online MSW program. She possesses 19 years’ experience in various staff and management positions with the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, Children’s Services Division, most recently serving as a deputy director overseeing multiple county-wide programs including those for policy and court, child protective services, and a CPS intake center and command post which houses a 24-hour child abuse hotline and provides immediate response to child endangerment situations.
Her academic positions include serving as an adjunct faculty member in La Sierra’s social work program this past school year. Additionally, from 2008 – 2011 she served as a full-time faculty member in Cal State, San Bernardino’s Bachelor of Social Work program and as a Title IV-E faculty field liaison for students placed in public child welfare internships. Title IV-E is a federal foster care and adoption assistance program.
La Sierra has stated that there will be more training for students, faculty, and administration on Title IX this year, and that includes Brown as she steps into her new role. "Brown will also undergo initial and ongoing Title IX coordinator training with the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA)," La Sierra says.
Joining La Sierra's staff at a time when the university had made headlines the university would rather not see, Brown expressed optimism about La Sierra's prospects for creating a safer campus. “I am excited about the opportunity to strengthen La Sierra University’s commitment to an educational environment free from sex discrimination and sexual violence,” she said. “In many ways I am returning to my roots. I earned my bachelor’s degree at a small liberal arts Christian college on the East Coast. I appreciate the support for whole person growth that a faith-based college provides. It is what I loved about my undergraduate program—it is what I enjoy about La Sierra. I am delighted to be back in a faith-based environment again."
Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.
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