Kaaren Williamsen named new SAPAC director

Thursday, September 7, 2017 - 3:47pm

The University of Michigan Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center named Kaaren Williamsen its permanent director, according to an email sent by E. Royster Harper, vice president for student life, to her office Thursday afternoon.

Williamsen will head the office beginning Oct. 23, replacing interim director Nadia Bazzy. Bazzy has been in office for little over six months — since March 3 — after the departure of longtime director Holly Rider-Milkovich for a senior position at EverFi, an educational technology innovator firm. Both Rider-Milkovich and her successor have worked with EverFi; Williamsen served on EverFi’s national Sexual Assault Advisory Council in 2016, in addition to roles with the American College Personnel Association Presidential Task Force on Sexual Violence Prevention in Higher Education and Skidmore College’s Campus Promoting Restorative Initiatives for Sexual Misconduct as chair.

Harper cited Williamsen’s previous position as the Title IX coordinator at Swarthmore College and Title IX deputy coordinator for Prevention at Carleton College. 

“Dr. Williamsen brings to this role many years of experience in sexual misconduct prevention, education and response efforts,” Harper wrote. “She is also a leader in the field’s national conversation.”

Williamsen’s experience with federal enforcement is increasingly relevant, as U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a change of course in campus sexual assault regulations Thursday afternoon. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights wielded Title IX to pressure schools into more stringent investigations of sexual misconduct complaints. Since 2014, the University has been one of about 240 schools across the country undergoing OCR investigation for mishandling students’ cases. Swarthmore was also under investigation during Williamsen’s tenure after students filed federal complaints against the university’s sexual assault policies.

"These new (Title IX coordinator) jobs are really not just about compliance anymore, (but also campus climate)," Williamsen told the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2014.

In an email to SAPAC staff and volunteers, Bazzy thanked her team for their support.

“Thank you all for your amazing work to continue to support our survivor community and provide preventive education to our campus,” she wrote. “It is because of all of you that we are able to continue to do good work.”