Please be advised: This article contains discussion of the Title IX office and Title IX process, sexual harassment, sexual violence and gender- and sex-based discrimination.
After a little less than a year and a half on the job, Title IX Coordinator and Nondiscrimination Officer Regina Curran has announced that she will be leaving Macalester this month and returning to American University.
The office has seen a turbulent few years marked by student criticism, the pandemic, national changes to Title IX law and several staffing switches — Curran’s departure makes for the fourth change in the coordinator position since April 2019. An interim director who will manage all new and open cases will be taking Curran’s place until the college hires a new permanent coordinator.
Curran will be leaving Title IX work altogether and taking on the role of Interim Assistant Vice President of Student Engagement at American University. In an email to The Mac Weekly, Curran cited the pandemic and family reasons for her upcoming departure.
“When I accepted the position at Macalester none of us could have known of the coming pandemic and the impact on our lives and choices,” Curran wrote. “We moved to a place that was completely new to me in the height of the lockdown and then brought a baby into our lives. Due to the pandemic my spouse is still employed in DC and much of our life transition didn’t occur in the ways it usually would.”
In an email to the campus community on Sept. 17, President Suzanne Rivera announced Curran’s resignation and outlined the upcoming search process for her replacement. The school has selected a search committee, chaired by American studies professor Duchess Harris, to find candidates for the coordinator position. The committee includes several other staff members and one student.
In an email to The Mac Weekly, Harris wrote that the committee has not yet met to start the search process.
Employment Services Director Bob Graf wrote in an email to The Mac Weekly that the committee will start its formal work in the next week or so.
“The work to prepare for the transition and the hiring process began immediately after being notified of Ms. Curran’s intention to leave,” Graf wrote.
The committee’s first task will be to draft a job posting for the open position. Then, the committee will review the applications and make a final decision down the line, though Graf said that the timeline is not set in stone.
“Our intention is to move as quickly as possible without compromising our desire to find the best fit for our current needs,” Graf wrote.
As the committee conducts its search, Caitlin Gehlen will serve as the interim Title IX coordinator and nondiscrimination officer. Gehlen works for a law firm called Lathrop GPM — Macalester’s Title IX office partners with this law firm and has hired interim directors from the firm in the past.
“The most important thing to me is that the transition does not impact the individuals I’m already working with,” Curran wrote. “I am already connected with Caitlin Gehlen and we’re working together on ensuring the handoff is smooth.”
There have been several of these handoffs in the last few years. For Macalester seniors, Gehlen will be the fifth Title IX coordinator during their time as students.
The 2019 spring semester set off the years of turnover in the Title IX office. Former Title IX and Bias Harassment Coordinator Timothy Dunn resigned in April 2019 after a student submitted a 30-page report outlining survivors’ poor experiences with the office and with Dunn in particular.
Two different interim coordinators followed Dunn before the school hired Curran on a permanent basis. Curran, who had previously held the coordinator position at American University, started her work at Macalester in April 2020.
Curran’s tenure at the college began with an upset in national Title IX law — in May 2020, The U.S. Department of Education changed the federal Title IX guidelines, forcing changes to Macalester’s procedures.
“People really gave of their time and energy in what was already a very challenging time…to ensure we developed a policy that supported the community as best as possible,” Curran wrote.
She said this work with students, staff and faculty was a highlight of her time at Macalester.
Curran’s last day at Macalester will be Oct. 1, though the timeline for a new permanent Title IX and bias harassment coordinator is still to be determined.
In her email to The Mac Weekly, Curran said she hopes students continue to find support systems, both including the Title IX office and outside of it.
“The role of a Title IX Coordinator is to remain neutral in a process that aims to help students, faculty, and staff, continue to access the educational environment equitably,” Curran wrote.
“It is an important job, but it is not a complete support system for any community member. The interim Title IX Coordinator, Caitlin Gehlen, will do good work, but she too doesn’t replace the role of a support system for folks who have experienced harm.”