Provost Nathan Urban announced changes to the Title IX Office in a campus-wide email Wednesday.
The email formally announced changes that President Joseph Helble discussed on Nov. 30 in an installment of his Community Conversations series.
The university will hire a Deputy Title IX coordinator as a permanent staff member in the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator (EOCC)/Title IX Office, he wrote in the email. An outside firm will provide the office with temporary case management and investigation support while they search for an individual to fulfill the position.
The EOCC/Title IX Office, which is currently housed in the Office of the General Counsel, will instead report to the Provost Office starting Jan. 1, the email read. The Office of the General Counsel will still provide legal advice and support to the Title IX Office.
Urban wrote they will create an advisory committee for the Provost that will be tasked with advising the Provost on initiatives aimed at reducing sexual misconduct on campus and improve their responses to reported incidents.
The appointing of this committee is the result of two reviews of the Title IX process that the university conducted over the summer. The reviews were conducted by an internal team, composed of Lehigh faculty and staff, and TNG Consulting, an external consulting firm that is versed in Title IX compliance. Each committee evaluated the office on response times, communication tone and structural issues.
According to the internal review report, the committee found “a serious and concerning delay in response time for reports filed by complainants,” believed to be a result of understaffing in the Title IX Office and declining coordination between the office and supportive services.
According to the internal review and external review reports, both committees recommended Lehigh increase staffing in the Title IX Office and move it away from the Office of General Counsel in order to improve Title IX responses.
Urban wrote Lehigh will continue to evaluate additional actions that will advance their goals of reducing sexual harassment and assault on campus.
“Lehigh is committed to creating an environment in which all people can engage in and contribute to learning, scholarship and creative activity,” Urban wrote in the email. “Consistent with this commitment, we work toward the goal of creating a campus that is free from discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.