The University announced that it has convened a search committee to select the next vice provost for institutional equity on Wednesday in an email to the community. This administrative position oversees the University’s discrimination and harassment resources, including disability services and sexual misconduct.
The position became vacant following the departure of former Vice Provost Kimberly Hewitt, who left Hopkins in July to become the vice president for institutional equity and chief diversity officer at Duke University.
Joy Gaslevic, formerly the assistant vice provost and Title IX coordinator, has assumed the role of interim vice provost since Hewitt’s departure. She will serve through the duration of the committee’s search.
The committee is co-chaired by Michele Decker, a Bloomberg School of Public Health associate professor and co-chair of the provost’s Sexual Violence Advisory Committee (SVAC), and Paul Pineau, the University’s vice president and general counsel. In addition to the co-chairs, 12 other members form the body of the committee. Although the committee is mostly comprised of faculty and administrators from Homewood, the School of Nursing and the School of Medicine, it also includes two students. The students are senior Gabi Swistara, an undergraduate and executive board member of the Sexual Assault Resource Unit (SARU) and Kaitlin Wood, a PhD candidate at the School of Medicine and president of the Graduate Student Association.
SARU Co-President Reah Vasilakopoulos expressed her excitement on having Swistara on the search committee while asserting the importance of including students on the committee.
“She will bring her own perspective as well as input from her work with SARU,“ Vasilakopoulos said in an interview with The News-Letter. “The inclusion of two students is not enough but still a good step towards more student representation. Given that this position directly impacts campus life at large as well as each individual’s experiences of dealing with misconduct, students are a necessary voice.”
In addition to leading the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE), the next vice provost for institutional equity will also be a member of the Diversity Leadership Council, the SVAC and the Provost’s senior leadership team.
The OIE has come under scrutiny in the past year, especially in regards to sexual assault on campus. In December of last year, students protested the mishandling of sexual assault cases after reports that the OIE website had mishandled 18 reports of sexual misconduct. Students who had reported sexual assaults through OIE were also frustrated about lengthy case-resolution times.
The OIE has taken steps to address those concerns, including implementing a new database to handle reports of sexual assault, as well as increasing transparency by releasing the results of both their annual report and a survey on the climate on campus. The number of cases open for over 180 days fell from 14 in July 2018 to just one this past July.
Pineau and Decker did not respond for comment as of press time.