DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > Through Title IX office, Kathryn Statz pursues gender equity with a Vincentian spirit

Through Title IX office, Kathryn Statz pursues gender equity with a Vincentian spirit

Participants on 2012 Vincentian Mission Institute
DePaul Title IX Coordinator Kathryn Statz, second from left, taking part in the 2012 Vincentian Mission Institute with colleagues from St. John’s University. (Photo courtesy of Kathryn Statz)

The role of DePaul University's Title IX office includes combating sexism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia — an imposing responsibility for anyone. As she leads this work, Title IX Coordinator Kathryn Statz takes heart and strength from the Vincentian mission that lies at the center of it, creating an equitable and safe environment for all students.

Statz, who also holds the title of director of gender equity, responds on the university's behalf to matters related to gender inequality, including sexual misconduct, sexual identity, pregnancy and sexual discrimination. Title IX refers to the section of federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities.

Statz joined the Title IX office in 2018 after many years in DePaul's Athletics Department. She credits that tenure for informing her work today as the Title IX coordinator.

"I was the associate director of athletics for 15 years, so I'm very fortunate I have the relationships I do within the university structure," she says. "Many people come to us in moments when they're overcome with trauma and fear. It's incredible how our team has been able to open their hearts to people, even through Zoom, and support them through these times."

In her own college days, Statz played volleyball and basketball at Mundelein College, which is now part of Loyola University Chicago. Her coach was the late Brenda Weare, who would both become a mentor to Statz and change the course of her career by teaching her about the equity responsibility that universities hold through Title IX.

"I had never heard of Title IX before my interactions with her, and she shaped my worldview," Statz says.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, Statz interned with the NCAA. Upon learning that most of her colleagues had advanced degrees, she felt inspired to pursue a Doctorate of Law herself.

"No one in my family had pursued higher education to such an extent," she says. "For me, the law called me more than a master's in something related to my undergraduate studies. I'm an analytical thinker, so thinking about the order of precedents, statutes and policies was very stimulating."

Statz went to Marquette University from the NCAA, then joined DePaul in 2002. While a Blue Demon, she experienced another awakening through her participation in the Vincentian Heritage Tour. This opportunity allows members of DePaul's community to visit locations throughout France associated with the life and works of St. Vincent de Paul.

Statz says the tour was her first experience learning about the Vincentian mission; throughout her education, she attended Catholic schools, but all of them operated under Jesuit or Dominican philosophies.

After her experience on the VHT, Statz was nominated to take part in the Vincentian Mission Institute. The VMI is a collaborative effort among the three Vincentian universities in the United States: DePaul University, Niagara University and St. John's University.

"Working with VMI was a great opportunity to continue being part of mission-related discussions," Statz says. "I learned more about Vincentian philosophy and the history of Catholic institutions in the United States with colleagues from other schools. The whole experience made me feel like there was no question I was in the right place."

As the Title IX Office works to promote equality on campus, Statz urges everyone to think of making themselves available to others in their time of need by demonstrating Vincentian care and empathy.

The fight for equality with respect to gender, sex and sexual identity seems to be never-ending. Political strife frequently leaves women, members of the LGBTQIA community and others in a state of limbo and feeling isolated. The support of others on campus can help everyone feel seen, safe and protected on campus.

"DePaul faculty and staff need to contribute the time and do the work to educate themselves about this really important area," she says. "We need to recognize that, particularly given that the way we perceive gender and sexuality is rapidly changing, the issues stemming from them are as important as other social justice priorities."

Statz encapsulates her personal philosophy with the words of St. Vincent de Paul: "It's not enough to do good. It must be done well."

Melania Toczko is a senior at DePaul, majoring in communication and media. She works in the Division of Mission and Ministry.