Five months after sexual assault controversy, MU hires Title IX coordinator

Linda Bennett has been hired as MU's first full-time Title IX coordinator.

New training requirements and a review of university policies will get top priority, the University of Missouri's new Title IX coordinator said Tuesday.

MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced Tuesday the university has hired Linda Bennett as a full-time Title IX coordinator, a job previously filled by an administrator on a part-time basis. The hire comes two months after an outside investigation found the university had no Title IX policies in place governing how employees should handle reports of a possible sexual assault. The report concluded this hindered MU's investigation of an alleged sexual assault on swimmer Sasha Menu Courey. Courey took her own life in June of 2011. Title IX spells out rights and protections for women attending colleges and universities that receive federal funding and deals extensively with sexual assault.

Bennett has served on the College of Education's faculty for 24 years and is on the board of directors for True North, a Columbia-based shelter for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence. She declined to address the report on the Courey case directly but said her primary responsibilities over the next few months will be overseeing the university's compliance efforts, assisting in a thorough review of its Title IX policies and developing new training protocols for staff and students. Bennett said the university plans to hire additional staff to handle Title IX issues. The exact number and type of positions needed has not been determined, but she said she does plan to hire a full-time Title IX investigator. She and her staff are currently working out what that person's exact responsibilities will be.