UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa, — Christopher J. Harris, Title IX investigator and compliance specialist at Penn State, has been named the University’s new Title IX coordinator. Harris, who has more than 15 years of experience in higher education in the areas of student and family services, sexual harassment and misconduct prevention, gender-based discrimination, and student conduct and judicial affairs, will begin his new role on July 23 in the Affirmative Action Office, reporting to the associate vice president for affirmative action, Suzanne Adair.
Following a national search, Harris succeeds Danny Shaha, interim assistant vice president for Student Affairs, who has served in the role of Title IX coordinator following the departure of Paul Apicella in 2017.
“We are truly fortunate to have Chris serve as Penn State’s new Title IX coordinator and look forward to his leadership as he oversees the University’s adherence to Title IX and all related programs and services,” said Adair. “His extensive knowledge of the current Title IX landscape, which includes the ability to interpret federal policies and implement investigative procedures within that context, will be a significant benefit to our students and employees. The collaborative relationships that Chris has successfully developed with other units across the University will also allow him to engage the community around these critical issues in ways which are inclusive and proactive.”
In his new role, Harris will lead efforts across the University to ensure compliance with federal Title IX policies related to sexual harassment and misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and gender-based discrimination. In partnership with Penn State’s campuses and offices, including the Office of Sexual Misconduct and Response, the Office of Student Conduct, Human Resources, Gender Equity Center, and Office of Ethics and Compliance, among others, Harris will manage the University’s response to Title IX reports and oversee investigations.
Harris also will develop and implement the University’s long-term vision for Title IX-related programs, services, education and outreach for students, faculty and staff as part of Penn State’s efforts to address sexual misconduct and create safe campus environments.
“I am very honored to have been selected as the Title IX coordinator for Penn State,” Harris said. “The University has demonstrated a strong commitment to fostering an environment free from sexual violence and discrimination based on sex and/or gender, and I am very enthusiastic about the future of Title IX compliance at Penn State. I look forward to working with the University community to make Penn State a national leader in this area.”
Before his current role of Title IX investigator, Harris was the associate director for Student and Family Services within Student Affairs at Penn State. As part of this work, he responded to student emergencies and crises, provided support and resources for students, advocated for students seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, assisted families in need of support, and managed the Student Emergency Fund. Harris also served as the assistant director of judicial affairs in Student Affairs.
In addition to Penn State, Harris also has worked at Ohio University as director of the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility and at Temple University as judicial affairs coordinator within the Office of Residential Life.
Among his professional affiliations, Harris is a member of the Association of Title IX Administrators and has earned the Title IX/Civil Rights Investigator Certification from the Association of Title IX Administrators and the Conducting Effective Internal Investigations Certification from the National Association of College and University Attorneys.
Harris received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a master of arts degree from Shippensburg University, and a juris doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.