Ann Skiffington assumes leadership role in new Office of Gender Equity

Attorney Ann Skiffington joined DePaul as director of Gender Equity (Title IX Coordinator) this fall. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
Attorney Ann Skiffington joined DePaul as director of Gender Equity (Title IX Coordinator) this fall. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
DePaul created a new Office of Gender Equity this year to more accurately describe the responsibilities of the Title IX Coordinator, says Ashley Knight, associate vice president for Student Affairs.

“Over the summer, Student Affairs, along with key campus partners such as Human Resources and the Office of the General Counsel, reviewed the job description for the Title IX Coordinator and decided to re-title the position: director of Gender Equity (Title IX Coordinator). The director responds not only to sexual and relationship violence concerns but also discrimination and harassment concerns based on sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy/parental status, and family relationship status,” Knight explains.

DePaul welcomes new director of Gender Equity (Title IX Coordinator)

Stepping into to the new role is Ann Skiffington, an attorney who spent nearly the past 20 years as vice president of human resources at Midtown Athletic Clubs in Chicago. Previously, she was an associate at the Chicago law firm of Seyfarth Shaw, specializing in employment law and employee benefits.

In coming to DePaul, Skiffington explains she was drawn to higher education because of her father.

“When I was 5, my father became a professor of management at Missouri State. He would take me to campus and talk about his work every night at the dinner table,” she says. “My father cared about students both academically and personally, and they appreciated his guidance. I felt as if I was part of a campus community from an early age through high school, and knew that it was special."

Skiffington earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational/industrial communications from Missouri State. She continued her studies earning a master’s degree in human resource management from Golden State University in San Francisco, and then a Juris Doctor from Loyola University.

“The role of director of Gender Equity (Title IX Coordinator) involves discrimination and I have dedicated my career to preventing it, addressing it, and most importantly, taking care of those involved,” she says.

Her approach

Skiffington hopes to build upon the best practices and programs at DePaul that are already in place to prevent and respond to discrimination, harassment, and sexual and relationship violence. 

"I look forward to working with all members of the DePaul community, especially students, to continue to engage the campus in this important work,” she says.

Communication with students will be key, she says.

Skiffington notes there often is confusion about the role of a Title IX Coordinator. “Students and others think the coordinator should be an advocate. Yet the law requires the Title IX Coordinator to remain impartial; to investigate and gather as much information as possible to help resolve the situation. But the university can assign an advocate outside the Title IX office to help the complainant on that end. Too often, however, many don’t take advantage of that help,” she says.

Differing roles

The role and types of complaints handled by the director of Gender Equity (Title IX Coordinator) differ from those handled by Human Resources and the dean of Students, and previously by the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, explains Knight.

The director of Gender Equity (Title IX Coordinator) is responsible for receiving, processing and investigating a complaint that an employee, student or third party has engaged in discrimination, harassment or retaliation on the basis of:
  • Sex
  • Gender
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status
  • Pregnancy/parental status
  • Family relationship status 
Human Resources (Employee Relations & Equal Employment Opportunity) is responsible for receiving, processing and investigating a complaint that an employee or third party has engaged in discrimination, harassment or retaliation on the basis of:
  • Race
  • Color
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Military status
  • Genetic information
  • Other status protected by local, state, or federal law
The dean of Students office is responsible for receiving, processing and investigating a complaint that a student has engaged in discrimination, harassment or retaliation on the basis of:
  • Race
  • Color
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Military status
  • Genetic information
  • Other status protected by local, state, or federal law
The Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity describes their scope as providing resources and organizational integration to effectively coordinate and develop a wide spectrum of services, programs, initiatives and policies focusing on ensuring inclusion and equity for all members of the DePaul community. In 2018, the investigation of all forms of discrimination complaints was transferred to Human Resources and Student Affairs and OIDE no longer investigates claims of discrimination or harassment, Knight says.

More information about Title IX and Skiffington's responsibilities are on the Division of Student Affairs website.

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