Jill Thomas, who formerly worked with the Air Force as a judge, defense attorney and prosecutor, will now act as Stanford’s Title IX coordinator and director of equity investigations.
The expanded role includes working with the Sexual Harassment Policy office, the Diversity and Access Office, Employee and Labor Relations and Human Resources managers.
“I know my job is to maintain a process that’s neutral and fair for all parties and ensure that that happens in a safe and helpful way,” Thomas said. “Overall, I’ll be making sure that we’re following the processes and protocols.”
Her appointment follows a search process that heavily invoked student voices. After former Title IX coordinator Cathy Glaze retired, a search committee — composed of faculty, staff and one student representative — was formed to identify potential candidates. After the choices were narrowed down to two, Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) president Shanta Katipamula and vice president Rosie Nelson gathered 20 students to develop a recommendation. Eventually, Provost Persis Drell approved Thomas as the new coordinator.
Katipamula said that the selection process is an example of what a “really student-centered process can look like,” and that she hopes that in the future, other University administrators can look to it as a model for how to include students in the process.
Student input was also a factor the committee considered when making the decision. Katipamula said that one of the things students appreciated about Thomas was her willingness to communicate.
“She is someone that students had a lot of trust in; they felt that she was someone that they felt comfortable approaching,” Katipamula said. “They felt that Jill listened to their concerns and was very concerned with hearing them out.”
Thomas stressed that as she enters her new role, one of her top priorities is getting out onto campus to talk with and listen to the community.
“Personally, I intend to get out there and have an open space, open heart, open soul,” Thomas said. “Come talk to me; I’m here.”
Thomas has met with resident assistants across campus and attended various NSO events and parent panels in an effort to understand student concerns. Katipamula says she’s excited for the upcoming year with Thomas at the helm.
“I think it’s great to have someone with this outside perspective come in, and we’re definitely looking forward to having a very fruitful partnership with the Title IX office this year,” she said.
Thomas encourages those potentially thinking about going to the Title IX office with their story to come forward.
“We are a safe space for reporting, and we want to make sure that the campus is safe, and so it’s important for them to bring forward that information,” Thomas said. “I would want them to know that we have a lot of resources, and if they don’t know about the resources, I would love to tell them about it.”
Contact Adesuwa Agbonile at adesuwaa ‘at’ stanford.edu.