University hires Rebecca Tillar as Title IX investigator
On Feb. 9, Rebecca Tillar began her role as Title IX investigator and compliance officer.
The University hired Tillar to take on the newly established position to help oversee Title IX investigations in December following a national search.
Tillar wrote in an email to the Justice that she will oversee investigations concerning behavior that may be in violation of Title IX.
Title IX is a part of the 1972 United States Education Amendments that states “[n]o person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
The principal objective of Title IX is to “avoid the use of federal money to support sex discrimination in education programs and to provide individual citizens effective protection against those practices. Title IX applies ... to all aspects of federally funded education programs or activities,” according to the Department of Justice.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Title IX includes gender-based discrimination such as the “failure to provide equal opportunity in athletics, and discrimination based on pregnancy.”
Title IX also covers instances of sexual assault on college campuses, and as such, Tillar will be overseeing sexual misconduct investigations as well.
Tillar will conduct informal investigations when complainants do not wish to enter a formal process, such as the Special Examiner’s Process for cases of sexual misconduct.
Additionally, Tillar will help to conduct formal Special Examiner’s Processes with an independent investigator from outside the University as a co-examiner.
Tillar will most often fill the role of co-examiner in the Special Examiner’s process, according to Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness Sheryl Sousa ’90 in an email to the Justice.
Sousa did not respond by press time to questions regarding who would take the role of the co-examiner otherwise and under what circumstances. The co-examiner role is a new feature, having been developed as part of the 2014-2015 Rights and Responsibilities handbook.
“The position of Title IX Investigator/Compliance Officer helps to ensure that all complaints of sexual misconduct are handled through consistent practices and standards,” Sousa wrote.
In addition to investigations, Tillar noted that she will also be assisting with education and outreach regarding Title IX rights and responsibilities, as well as reviewing University policies and procedures to identify additional areas in need of improvement.
Tillar will report directly to Sousa and work within the Division of Students and Enrollment and in collaboration with Title IX Coordinator Linda Shinomoto.
According to Sousa, Shinomoto’s role will not change with the introduction of Tillar’s position.
“Linda [Shinomoto] is the University’s Chief Title IX Officer charged with assuring that the systems, personnel, and processes are in place to achieve overall compliance,” she wrote in the email.
According to Tillar, similar investigative positions already exist at other universities.
However, she wrote that a majority of the positions at colleges around the country were created due to recent recommendations of Title IX compliance made by the Department of Education to encourage fair investigations for both the complainant and accused.
“By having its own investigator as well as multiple independent investigators, Brandeis will be able to conduct unbiased, thorough investigations and analysis on all reports of sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence,” Tillar wrote.
Tillar comes to Brandeis with vast legal knowledge as a licensed attorney and Army National Guard judge advocate.
Prior to beginning her role at Brandeis, she served as a lead investigator and judge advocate for National Guard Bureau in the Washington, D.C. area.
While in that position, she investigated a number of reports of sexual misconduct within the Army and Air National Guard.
Tillar received her Bachelor of Science in hospitality management and business from The Ohio State University and her J.D. from Seattle University School of Law.