St. Olaf appoints new Title IX and disability access and accommodations coordinator
This fall there’s a new point person for Title IX and disability access and accommodations at St. Olaf College.
Pamela McDowell, who has worked with St. Olaf students for more than three decades, most recently as the associate dean of students for residence life, has been named the college’s new Title IX and Section 504 coordinator.
In this role, McDowell will oversee all aspects of the college’s gender equity compliance efforts, including work to prevent and address sexual harassment. She will also oversee the college’s efforts to ensure equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities.
Kari Hohn, who had served as the college’s director of Title IX and equal opportunity for the last six years, moved into a new Human Resources role at St. Olaf. She will oversee employee relations, support recruiting and benefits administration, and handle accommodations and special projects. Hohn and McDowell will both have offices in the Human Resources office suite.
“I am delighted that Human Resources is the new home for Title IX and that Kari has joined our team,” says Vice President for Human Resources Leslie Moore ’77. “With Pamela as the college’s new Title IX coordinator and Kari as our generalist, we are signaling to the community that this work — creating a safe residential community for students and a safe working environment for faculty and staff — is central to HR’s vision for the college.”
Hohn joined St. Olaf in 2016 shortly after a working group charged with examining the college’s Title IX process issued its report. She led the college’s efforts to implement the changes the group recommended.
“Kari has worked tirelessly to restore the community’s faith in our Title IX process,” says St. Olaf Vice President and General Counsel Carl Crosby Lehmann ’91, who had more than 20 years of experience advising colleges and universities on Title IX before he joined St. Olaf in 2016. “Under her leadership, today we have a process that ensures a caring, consistent, fair, impartial, and lawful response for all participants.”
As a key member of both the college’s Title IX Coordinated Response Team and its Bias Response Team, McDowell has worked closely with Hohn and has a deep familiarity with St. Olaf’s policies and processes. She served as the college’s conduct officer from 2009 until this year, has provided assistance to students involved in cases of sexual harassment and misconduct, and has both conducted and adjudicated investigations of sexual misconduct.
“Pamela’s willingness to take over the leadership of Title IX at St. Olaf allows us to have a seamless transition and hit the ground running as the new academic year begins,” Lehmann says.
McDowell and Hohn are both eager for the opportunity to serve the St. Olaf community in new ways. McDowell’s decades of work at St. Olaf has centered on the student experience, from helping Oles learn to live in community with others to leading the development of a new $60 million housing project that better supports the needs of current students. She’ll build on that work in her new role.
“I am looking forward to assisting and supporting students through difficult situations, removing barriers, and developing programming focused on preventing misconduct on campus,” McDowell says.
I am looking forward to assisting and supporting students through difficult situations, removing barriers, and developing programming focused on preventing misconduct on campus.Pamela McDowell
She knows that these efforts have been well-led and highly respected under Hohn, and she plans to continue to expand this work.
During Hohn’s tenure, St. Olaf significantly increased efforts to prevent violence and harassment, including establishing the Consent and Sexual Respect Initiative. Hohn also worked to educate the community on how to file a Title IX report and what the process looks like.
“I love how hard we’ve worked to make the Title IX Office a space for resources and education. We are grounded in wanting anyone who needs us to be able to learn about all the options and resources available so that they can make an informed decision about next steps,” Hohn says, emphasizing that providing people who report misconduct with the autonomy to decide whether and how to move forward with a case is crucially important. “We’ve put a lot of time and effort into turning a law and process that has many compliance requirements into something that fits with and is accessible to our community. That is no small feat.”
I love how hard we’ve worked to make the Title IX Office a space for resources and education. We are grounded in wanting anyone who needs us to be able to learn about all the options and resources available so that they can make an informed decision about next steps.Kari Hohn
As she transitions to her new role in Human Resources, Hohn says what she’ll miss most is working with students. Yet she’s also eager to leverage her skills to help make a positive difference for her staff and faculty colleagues.
“How employees feel about their workplace is extremely important, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to learn about and hopefully improve a community I care so deeply about,” Hohn says.
McDowell’s new Title IX office is located in the Human Resources suite in Tomson Hall 180. She encourages students, faculty, and staff who need support to stop in, or contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporting can also be done online, and more resources are available on the Title IX web page.