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.