The associate dean for student services and administration of the University of Richmond School of Law will be the new director of compliance and Title IX coordinator.
Kristine Henderson, who has worked at UR for 20 years, will serve in the role starting Dec. 4, and will oversee investigations into reports of sexual misconduct and coordinate the deputy Title IX coordinators.
Henderson has been responsible for the day-to-day administration of the School of Law and counseling students on financial aid, Americans with Disabilites Act accommodations and academics. She is also a member of the University Hearing Board, which hears Title IX cases.
The university formed a search committee for the position this year. On-campus interviews took place for the two finalist candidates, who went before panels of students, faculty and staff.
The student panel consisted of students working with Britnie Hopkins, the sexual misconduct education and prevention coordinator. These students are involved with Spiders for Spiders, Spiders Against Sexual Assault and Violence (SASAV) and Peer Sexual Misconduct Advisors (PSMA).
Rennie Harrison, senior president of Spiders Against Sexual Assault and Violence (SASAV), and another committee member expressed concern that someone from within the university would be filling the job.
“She seems really caring and smart and hardworking,” Harrison said, reflecting on her interactions with Henderson. “I am concerned with the idea of someone who's been at the university for 20 years coming into this role.”
“Having experience at the university, you have to look at it two ways,” Chief David McCoy of URPD said. “One, it can assist you or one, it can hurt you...as far as dealing with specific types of issues.”
Peter Smallwood, a biology professor who was on the faculty panel and is also a member of the President’s advisory committee, said he knew Henderson and was impressed with how she once handled a conflict between faculty and deans at the law school.
“I thought she handled that extremely well, with grace and with dignity, and in a way, she ended up with both sides of that conflict respecting her,” Smallwood said.
Henderson said she had been aware of the challenges that would come with her position, given that last year two UR students published accounts criticizing the way the university handled their sexual misconduct cases.
“For the Title IX situation that was going here on campus, I was not involved in that,” Henderson said. “I was more of a spectator, if you will, or an interested party for the university, but understanding what was happening. And my heart was breaking for students, for the university.”
In order to help the university heal, Henderson said she would have an open mind, focusing on educating every member of the campus community about Title IX and compliance.
With feedback from each group and President Crutcher, the university made a final decision to hire Henderson.
“We heard many comments that aligned with our parameters for the position and for the search,” Shannon Sinclair, vice president and general counsel, said. “I think key among them were Dean Henderson’s long experience working with students, not just working with students generally, but working with students who are facing crises.”
When the former director of compliance, Maura Smith, left the position to become the director of human resources in the Athletics Department at Virginia Commonwealth University, the university did not immediately rush into the hiring process, Sinclair said.
“We didn’t want to begin the search process during the summer because, quite frankly, we wanted to make sure faculty and students had an opportunity to participate,” Sinclair said. “So we really launched the search process in earnest at the beginning of this academic year.”
Tracy Cassalia, who took on the responsibilities of the director of compliance during the search process, will continue in her role as a deputy title IX coordinator.
Contact news writer Kay Dervishi at email@example.com.