Poorman Convocation Focuses on Title IX Concerns

Speech also highlights diversity and inclusion

By Delaney Vetter | August 29, 2018 10:24pm

In the afternoon on Tuesday, August 28, University President Father Mark Poorman gave a convocation reviewing all of the improvements the University worked on over the summer. He addressed subjects like Title IX, promotions to the leadership cabinet, and ongoing construction projects on campus.

Media Credit: Molly Lowney / The Beacon

Yesterday afternoon, President Fr. Mark Poorman announced a long list of initiatives and policy changes on diversity, inclusion and Title IX in his annual convocation speech to faculty and staff.

Poorman directly referenced the Wally awards controversy from last spring in his speech, saying the incident and the conversations that followed “strengthened our commitment to constant education of ourselves and improvement.”

The University plans to implement new policies to prevent sexual violence and gender-based violence starting this year. The policy changes include:

  • Title IX-related “programming for the men’s tennis team”
  • Athletics will require each varsity team to meet with the Title IX coordinator, the director of Public Safety and the Green Dot Project one to two times per academic year.
  • The syllabus for the freshman student athlete course will add training in sexual misconduct prevention, diversity, policies, procedures and resources. 
  • Expanded definitions of consent and incapacitation-prevalent issues in many sexual assault cases have been added to the student handbook
  • All new and returning students are now required to complete online trainings on sexual assault prevention and alcohol education. 
  • On Sept. 2, all new on-campus students are required to attend “Talk About It,” a discussion session on incapacitation, consent and bystander intervention.
  • On Oct. 15, university offices will be closed all day for staff training on diversity, inclusion, equity and bystander intervention.

Poorman said he foresees further expansion of bystander intervention programs and an increase in training and resources, including expanded trainings for international students, students studying abroad and off-campus students. 

Poorman thanked Sandy Chung, vice president for Human Resources, and Associate Vice President for Student Development Matthew Rygg for their leadership on the issue. Chung was recently appointed to be the new Title IX coordinator for compliance, and Rygg was appointed the new Title IX coordinator for education. 

The President also mentioned Chung’s promotion to vice president in addition to the promotion of Andrea Barton to vice president of Legal Affairs. UP has not had a female vice president since 2015

Father Poorman thanked several people and called for applause especially for the employees of the mailing center, who have been working hard to deliver mail to students as school began.

by Molly Lowney / The Beacon

Along with Title IX changes and staffing updates, Poorman mentioned the School of Nursing’s new Simulated Health Center, a section in Buckley that looks like an actual hospital wing. There are new 17 patient rooms and six simulation suites where nursing students can learn from hands-on experience. 

Poorman also announced UP will host a celebration for the Opus Prize finalists Nov. 11 through Nov. 15. 

The speech detailed the plans for the Franz Campus, which includes relocating Physical Plant to the riverfront, and transforming the current P-Plant building into an experiential, hands-on lab for innovation and experimentation within the next few years.

He highlighted the creation of two new departments. The Office of International Education, Diversity and Inclusion will be headed by Eddie Contreras in the role of Assistant Provost. Beth Sorensen will be director of the new Department of Public Affairs in the University Relations division. 

Poorman also gave an update on the core curriculum review. A new core curriculum will be in place for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

Poorman concluded with a look to the future. 

“Looking ahead, we know challenges remain and our work continues,” Poorman said. “But I am encouraged by the dedication of our community members to the constant pursuit of improvement and progress.” 

Poorman's full speech can be found here.

Delaney Vetter is a senior news reporter and Opinions Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at vetter20@up.edu.