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Ellen Eardley, '03 named MU Title IX administrator, assistant vice provost


Ellen Eardley, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., has been named the new Title IX administrator at MU.

COLUMBIA — Ellen Eardley, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., has been appointed Title IX administrator and assistant vice provost at MU. She will start the position on April 20 with a salary of $150,000, according to Christian Basi, associate director of the the MU News Bureau.

Ellen EardleyEardley is a partner at the Mehri & Skalet firm in Washington, D.C., and an adjunct faculty member at the American University Washington College of Law. She has been with the law firm for more than seven years.She was one of four finalists selected by a search team late last year. The committee convened in October to fill the Title IX administrator position — the first of its kind at MU. She visited the campus in December for interviews. The move followed investigations into Missouri athletics' failure to report the alleged sexual assault of one of its athletes, Sasha Menu Courey, and similar incidents.

Eardley, 37 and a native of southern Illinois, has a substantial legal history working with Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination at educational institutions, and other cases involving discrimination. "I've been working on cases of discrimination, and particularly gender discrimination, since I graduated from law school in 2003," she said. "I've always wanted to work on issues of gender and the law. It's the reason that I went to law school." Eardley holds a degree in English and women's studies from Eastern Illinois University. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, Eardley joined the National Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C., a leading women's legal organization. The center offers education and policy work, she said, as well as litigation on issues of anti-discrimination. It was founded more than 40 years ago "to expand, protect, and promote opportunity and advancement for women and girls at every stage of their lives." It was there Eardley said she did much of her work on Title IX issues.

Now a partner at her private practice, her focus has been predominantly employment and housing discrimination. At American University, she teaches a course to law students about discrimination issues, including Title IX. Eardley said she is aware of the work that has gone into Title IX initiatives at MU, and she acknowledged the work already put in by interim coordinator Linda Bennett. "My first step is to build on the work that's already been done by Dr. Bennett, the chancellor, the provost, and I also want to spend to time listening to various constituencies on campus," Eardley said. This includes learning about the needs on campus and how Title IX information is disseminated so that the new UM System collected rules and regulations are easily understood.

Eardley, however, did say it will take some time to get the lay of the land and develop  strategic priorities. She said she is already familiar with Columbia. She grew up outside St. Louis and has visited campus several times. Her mother worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "A number of folks that I know personally have attended Mizzou, and I've always had a lot of respect for the school overall," Eardley said. Given her heritage, Eardley said she is excited to make the move from the East Coast back to the Midwest. "When I got off the airplane (in December) in the tiny airport outside Columbia, I felt at home," she said. "I like to see the horizon, and I really enjoy living in a college town, so I'm excited about the move." 

This story was written by Thomas Carter