Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff: The recent video revealing offensive and unacceptable behavior by members of a Syracuse University fraternity is a painful wake-up call. It has prompted, rightfully, much outrage and concern across our campus. In the last 36…
Sheila Johnson-Willis Appointed Chief Equal Opportunity and Title IX Officer
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Andrew Gordon has announced that Sheila R. Johnson-Willis has been named associate vice president and chief equal opportunity and Title IX officer. She has served in that position on an interim basis since June 2015.
“Following a national search announced last November, which attracted applicants from across the country, it became very clear to the search committee that Sheila has all the essential qualifications, skills, experience, sensitivity and commitment to carry out the duties of this critical role,” says Gordon. “She has earned the respect and trust of students, faculty and staff, and has done a stellar job of leading the office through some challenging times over the last few years.”
Gordon thanked the search committee, a diverse group of students, faculty and staff co-chaired by Dawn Johnson, associate professor and chair of the Department of Higher Education in the School of Education, and Jake Tanksley, senior human resource business partner in the Office of Human Resources.
“The committee understood the crucial nature of this position in fostering a culture of inclusion and acceptance and a safe and supportive learning, living and working environment,” says Gordon. “Sheila has already demonstrated her agility, sensitivity, compassion and professionalism in handling a myriad of equal opportunity, Title IX, disability and related issues. This position encompasses increasingly complex and demanding concerns. I look forward to working with her in partnership as we strengthen our services related to these complicated and vital issues.”
Reporting to Gordon, the associate vice president leads the Equal Opportunity and Inclusion Resolution Office (EOIRS) and is responsible for aligning all its functions, including training and investigation of equal opportunity claims, affirmative action planning and disability rights guidance and investigations. During her tenure as interim leader, Johnson-Willis has expanded services and staff, adding an experienced investigator and obtaining the resources necessary to hire two additional investigators. She also enhanced disability services and outreach to students to make them more aware of their rights and the support available.
“I am grateful for the support of the University in providing the resources critical to ensuring that we are a welcoming and inclusive campus committed to equal opportunity,” says Johnson-Willis. “As we move forward, my priorities include increased education and communication campuswide on issues related to accessibility, equality, sensitivity and safety for all members of the Orange family.”
Prior to being appointed interim associate vice president and chief equal opportunity and Title IX officer in June 2015, Johnson-Willis was director of equal opportunity and inclusion at Syracuse University from October 2012 to June 2015. She came to Syracuse from Colgate University, where she was director of equal opportunity and affirmative action and Title IX officer. Before that, she was director for affirmative action compliance and Title IX coordinator at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. She earned a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan.
About Syracuse University
Founded in 1870, Syracuse University is a private international research university dedicated to advancing knowledge and fostering student success through teaching excellence, rigorous scholarship and interdisciplinary research. Comprising 11 academic schools and colleges, the University has a long legacy of excellence in the liberal arts, sciences and professional disciplines that prepares students for the complex challenges and emerging opportunities of a rapidly changing world. Students enjoy the resources of a 270-acre main campus and extended campus venues in major national metropolitan hubs and across three continents. Syracuse’s student body is among the most diverse for an institution of its kind across multiple dimensions, and students typically represent all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Syracuse also has a long legacy of supporting veterans and is home to the nationally recognized Institute for Veterans and Military Families, the first university-based institute in the U.S. focused on addressing the unique needs of veterans and their families.