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March 5, 2015 Volume 36, No. 22

Title IX administrator inspired by parents’ commitment to fairness

Ellen Eardley looking forward to educating on Title IX policy


Ellen Eardley credits her parents for instilling in her a commitment to gender equity and fairness.

Eardley, who starts April 20 as MU’s assistant provost and Title IX administrator, is fond of a story often told by her mother, Linda, the first woman reporter hired to write for the city desk at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In 1969, on her first day on the job, Linda Eardley entered a newsroom made up almost entirely of male editors and reporters. Yet despite the obvious gender bias, she was a success, spending 36 years at the newspaper and being inducted into the print portion of the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame.

 My parents “always impressed upon me the importance of treating everyone equally and fairly,” Ellen Eardley said. “That shaped the work I’ve done, whether it’s thinking about gender issues, race and civil rights, sexual orientation, or disability.”

After earning a master’s in women’s studies and a law degree from the University of Cincinnati, Eardley worked at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., where she co-wrote a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on Title IX.

For the past 10 years, Eardley has been in private practice at Mehri & Skalet in Washington, D.C. Most of her cases involve discrimination, harassment and retaliation allegations. Since 2012, Eardley has been an adjunct faculty member at American University Washington College of Law, where she teaches a course on gender-based discrimination. She also researches developments in legislation and regulations and discusses practical considerations for compliance with gender equity laws.

At MU, Eardley will be responsible for assuring compliance with all Title IX laws, overseeing monitoring of university policy in relation to Title IX, implementing grievance and resolution procedures, and providing educational materials and training for the campus community.

At an open forum Dec. 17 at MU, Eardley talked about her goals as a lawyer in private practice: to give voice to the voiceless, apply the law to remedy inequitable social situations and help clients move forward after resolution. In her role as the Title IX administrator, Eardley said she’ll operate with those goals in mind and is eager to add prevention and education to her responsibilities.

 “I’m excited to be part of an institution where I can use my skills and also be part of conversations related to solutions and preventing discrimination from happening in the first place,” she said.

One of her biggest challenges will be making sure the campus community understands Title IX policies. “I think that transparency and discussion about what those policies are will help people be more comfortable with them,” Eardley said.

During her first few months, Eardley plans to conduct a listening tour with faculty, staff and students and build on the leadership of Linda Bennett, MU’s interim Title IX coordinator.

“We have an opportunity here to hopefully make real, lasting, systematic change,” Eardley said.

 —  Kelsey Allen


 Harassment and Title IX Training Update

All University of Missouri System employees must complete two online training courses. Due to technical glitches, the deadline for completion has been extended to March 31.

Human Resources is reaching out to employees who have yet to complete both training modules.

If problems persist in accessing training, employees can call the Division of IT tech support at 882-5000 or contact their unit’s DoIT professional. IT personnel are also working to ensure that employees’ computers are compatible with the software.