Over the summer, Jamie Ball was hired by the university as director of the Office of Equal Opportunity, Access and Title IX Coordination.
After graduating college, Ball worked in the Student Affairs department at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, for four years before heading to Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles for her Juris Doctor degree.
She then worked in private sector law practice for seven years, before heading to the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Professional Standards Division Equal Employment Opportunity from 2011 to 2015.
After leaving the LAFD, Ball was the inaugural institutional compliance officer/Title IX coordinator at Truman State University.
Ball is coming to the office just months after the Title IX office and Pembrook came under fire from alumna Bailey Reed, who criticized the university’s handling of her sexual assault claim last year.
“I think one of the questions that emerges from that case is whether the appeal process is perfectly functional, and whether or not there’s some room for constructive change there. I think an appellate process is absolutely essential, but at the same time having multiple layers of appellate review can sometimes work at odds with [achieving finality],” Ball said.
However, Ball stressed that the university has not concretely decided to modify any of the appellate process yet.
Ball said she began thinking about returning to higher education after the national conversation began to focus on what role a university has in preventing sexual violence.
“So, as I was kind of tuning into that conversation more and more, becoming more aware of Title IX, and how it worked, and how it was being used as a tool to address the problem, I thought ‘OK, I have some of those skills,’” Ball said.
“I have a student affairs background, but I’m also trained as an attorney and as an investigator. And I’d always kind of hoped to return to higher ed. in some capacity.”
Ball said she enjoys the cyclical nature of being on a college campus because it inspires renewal in the way she approaches her work.
She also said that being around students is an “energizing thing.”
“The [issues] that come to my office are typically not good problems, but still I think it’s an honor to work in a role in which you can support people who are undertaking the endeavor of higher education, because it is such an important and special time in somebody’s life,” Ball said.
Chancellor Randy Pembrook said he was very pleased with all of the potential candidates for the position, but thought that Ball’s experience with investigations and higher education will be good for the university.
“I think one of the things that you get when you have someone come in from a different institution is … the downside is that they have to learn [about]everybody, the good side is that they may have seen things done a different way. And so, they bring that fresh set of eyes,” Pembrook said.
Ball said the university’s current policies are a solid foundation, but that they must be continuously reexamined.
“I think one of the responsibilities of someone in my role is to continually be scrutinizing policies and procedures to think about ways in which they can be improved and be responsive to the needs of a community. They’re not static documents, they’re living documents, so we have to always be thinking about ways we can improve these processes,” Ball said.
“One of the things we want to make clearer and more functional for the campus community is the partnership between my office and student affairs for cases involving students.
“Because the mandate at my office is a big one, some of the functions are necessarily delegated to other folks within the campus community,” Ball said.
As a part of that, Ball said more members of the Student Affairs office are being trained as investigators capable of handling complaints.
Ball said she expected to have four trained investigators starting this semester, as opposed to the one investigator available to the university in the spring semester.
While the Office of Equal Opportunity, Access & Title IX Coordination is helping clear up the way they work alongside Student Affairs, Ball was unwilling to make any public announcement of any upcoming policy changes she was interested in making.
However, she said she expected to announce some proposed changes this semester.