Chancellor DiStefano today announced that CU-Boulder has hired education and civil rights lawyer Valerie Simons to serve as the director of institutional equity and compliance, effective July 22.
The newly created position, which includes the role of Title IX coordinator for the campus, reports directly to DiStefano and has campuswide oversight for all complaints of discrimination, which are currently investigated through both the Office of Student Conduct and the Office of Discrimination and Harassment.
Creating a new position to oversee the investigative roles of both offices was one of the primary recommendations of an external review of the university’s Title IX processes and procedures ordered by DiStefano last July and conducted by the law firm Pepper Hamilton last year. The university released the report’s findings on Jan. 24 of this year (http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2014/01/24/title-ix-review-report-finds-cu-boulder-meeting-legal-requirements).
“Valerie Simons brings outstanding credentials and is extremely well-qualified to serve in this important role for the university,” DiStefano said. “With a strong legal background and substantive knowledge in this area, she will help us expand our strong anti-discrimination policies and practices and ensure that CU-Boulder becomes a national model for compliance. This is one of our highest priorities and we believe that hiring a respected civil rights attorney like Ms. Simons to head our efforts in equity and compliance is consistent with that priority.”
Simons said she was honored to accept the post and looks forward to working with the administration, faculty, staff and students of CU-Boulder.
“This is a vibrant learning community that has impressed me with its commitment to furthering a culture of safety, equity and fairness,” said Simons. “I believe that together, we can work to enhance CU-Boulder’s training, prevention and education programs in the areas of sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating and intimate partner violence and stalking. I look forward to beginning that important work immediately.”
Simons is currently the founder and managing member of the Education Law Group of Colorado LLC, a law firm representing students and/or their parents in federal civil rights matters. Prior to that, she served as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Education Section, where she was lead counsel on behalf of the United States enforcing Title IX and Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act in dozens of cases around the country. Those cases included U.S. v. Virginia Military Institute (VMI), which involved the admission and integration of women at the formerly all-male state university.
Upon returning to Colorado, Simons clerked for former Chief Justice Michael Bender of the Colorado Supreme Court and then joined Holland & Hart LLP’s litigation department. Following Holland & Hart, Simons served as the associate director of the Legal Services Program of the Colorado Association of School Boards where she provided direct representation to school boards. She continued to practice education and civil rights law on behalf of students and their parents with her firm Choquette & Simons LLP.
Simons graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley, with high distinction and cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center.