Title IX fills investigator and coordinator position after a two-year vacancy


Ryan Milligan was previously working at Tufts University and at the U.S. Office of Civil Rights Department of Education for over ten years beforehand. Photo credit: Cho Yin Rachel Lo

By Faith Bugenhagen

Ryan Milligan was not actively seeking a position when Title IX Access and Equity reached out to him with an opening for the investigator and coordinator position, but Milligan said Emerson’s culture, student body, and location drew him in.

“I wanted to return to an urban space, a creative space; I wanted to be with creatives,” he said in an interview with The Beacon. “I also think Emerson is uniquely poised to do a lot of ground-breaking work in this space during a really challenging but empowering time nationally and internationally.”

Milligan started at Emerson three weeks ago, closing a two-year vacancy in the position. Sylvia Spears, the vice president for Equity and Social Justice, said this was due to Emerson’s inability to find the perfect candidate to take on the responsibilities of Deputy Title IX Coordinator.

Milligan comes to Emerson after a three-year tenure at Tufts and over ten years of experience in the U.S. Office of Civil Rights Department of Education.

“At Tufts, I was primarily responsible with intake of all reports, receipt, and responses to those reports,” he said. “More often than not I was used as a resource of students who have been impacted by sexual misconduct and other forms of discrimination or harassment.”

Jennifer Magrone, associate director of the Office of Equal Opportunity at Tufts University, reflected in an emailed statement on Ryan Milligan’s time as Tufts’ Deputy Title IX Investigator.

“I can tell you very sincerely that we [at Tufts] were sorry to have to say goodbye,” Magrone wrote. “Ryan was a wonderful colleague—knowledgeable, thoughtful, and dedicated.”

Milligan spent his time at the U.S. Office of Civil Rights Department of Education focusing on social justice, equal opportunity, and assisting communities to battle against interpersonal, power-based violence or discrimination. He said this work inspired him to explore how he could increase equity and inclusion across college campuses.

“It was there that I saw the free access to potential justice within communities,” he said. “Everyone’s personal experience is connected to this work; it is important to us to see ourselves as stakeholders to ensure safe community and provide everyone with well-being.”

Spears said she and other colleagues currently working alongside Milligan had high expectations for the individual they would hire to fulfill the position of deputy Title IX coordinator and investigator.

“The hiring process was certainly longer than we hoped, but we had some pretty clear ideas of what we thought were necessary for the position,” Spears said. “We wanted somebody who understood trauma-informed response, someone who had previous experience with Title IX investigation, and someone who would also understand the culture that we have at Emerson.”

Upon finding Milligan for the job, Spears said the Title IX team felt that Milligan’s experience would allow him to understand the complexity and nuances of Title IX investigations.

“I am just excited to see all the ways Ryan will inform our practices, [and] engage with [the] community on what’s working and what’s not working,” she said. “I think he will be a wonderful partner for Pam White.”

Milligan acknowledged that there is a lot of work ahead of him, but said it would be done better if he focused on forming a relationship with the student body and learned about their needs and concerns before fixing any shortcomings.

“I want to speak to students to understand their experiences,” Milligan said. “I would be foolish to think I could understand with only the collaboration of my colleagues.”

Correction 2/6: A previous version of this article labeled Sylvia Spears as the vice president of Diversity and Inclusion. Her position is the vice president for Equity and Social Justice. This has been corrected.