Ann Skiffington assumes leadership role in new Office of Gender Equity

CHICAGO — A new Office of Gender Equity was created at DePaul this year to more accurately describe the responsibilities of the Title IX Coordinator, said 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 explained.

DePaul welcomes new director (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.

Ann Skiffington
Attorney Ann Skiffington joined DePaul as Director of Gender Equity (Title IX Coordinator) this fall. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
In coming to DePaul, Skiffington explained 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. I met students, saw him teach, and heard lively academic debates,” she said. 

“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,” said Skiffington, who 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.

“During law school, I found something else that was special to me when I took a class called Labor and Employment Law. I learned about discrimination law, and was drawn to it,” Skiffington said.

“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 noted.

Her approach
“I hope 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,” Skiffington said.

Communication with students will be key, she said. “We especially want to help students understand their options and where to go for assistance if they want, and to let them know we’ve assigned them an advocate, typically someone from the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, to offer counseling and support to help overcome trauma.” 

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 said.

“Ann is a good fit for DePaul because of her experience overseeing all reports of discrimination, harassment (including sexual misconduct), and retaliation in the employment setting at Midtown Athletic Clubs. As an attorney with particular interest in these topics and a desire to join the higher education sector, she brings her knowledge and experience in resolving gender equity complaints with employees to our workplace at DePaul,” said Knight.

“I think students will appreciate her keen insights and her resourcefulness in providing an equitable, respectful learning and working environment at DePaul,” Knight added.

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, explained 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 said.

More information about Title IX and Skiffington’s responsibilities are on the Student Affairs website at http://bit.ly/SA-TitleIX.

###

Media contact:
Carol Hughes
312-362-8592

​​​