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TiShaunda R. McPherson named associate vice president for equity

Former civil rights attorney will start Sept. 8

TiShaunda McPherson
TiShaunda McPherson will lead Northwestern’s Office of Equity.

TiShaunda R. McPherson has been named Northwestern University’s associate vice president for equity, Interim Provost Kathleen Hagerty announced today. McPherson will start on Sept. 8.

McPherson is corporate counsel at Adtalem Global Education and previously served as its inaugural director of equity and access. Prior to joining Adtalem, she served as senior civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, from 2010 to 2017.

“I am honored to be returning to my alma mater in this new capacity and to partner with a distinguished group of professionals who have a demonstrated commitment to such important work,” McPherson said.

Hagerty said McPherson emerged from a national search of candidates conducted by a committee representing a broad array of staff, faculty and students. The committee was chaired by Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, vice provost for academics and the Frances Willard Professor of Human Development and Social Policy in the School of Education and Social Policy.

“I am so pleased that TiShaunda McPherson will serve as associate vice president for equity,” Hagerty said. “She has the broad range of experience — in education, in government, in law — to ensure that the Office of Equity will continue to provide excellent service, resources and support to all members of the Northwestern community. 

“I look forward to partnering with her and the rest of the talented staff in the Office of Equity in our ongoing efforts to create a more equitable institution for all of our students, staff and faculty.”

As director of equity and access at Adtalem Global Education, McPherson implemented processes to streamline reporting, documentation, investigation and resolution of student complaints alleging discrimination. She most recently served as its corporate counsel, where she trained and counseled administrators, staff and students on antidiscrimination policies and statutes.

As senior attorney at the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, McPherson determined institutional compliance with Title IX, Title VI, Title II, Section 504 and the Age Discrimination Act; developed compliance plans to ensure adherence to regulatory requirements; and provided training on the relationships among such laws and the Clery Act, FERPA and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). 

In her new role, McPherson will lead the University’s Office of Equity, which develops and implements practices, programs and policies to support an equitable learning and working environment and ensures integrity, fairness and effectiveness in programs that manage prevention and responses to discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct and retaliation. 

“It is especially important, in these unprecedented times, to advance the Office of Equity’s mission of fostering an environment in which all members of our community are treated with dignity and respect, and are provided access to resources that enable them to thrive,” McPherson said. “I could not be more excited to join this team in these efforts.”

Earlier in her career, McPherson served as a litigation associate at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and as a judicial law clerk in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

McPherson earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a J.D. from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. She also holds a master’s of public policy from the University of Minnesota.

When she begins in September, McPherson will succeed Dwight Hamilton who served in that role until 2018, and Sarah Wake, associate general counsel, who served in the role in 2019. Colleen Johnston, who has most recently led the Office of Equity as interim assistant vice president for equity, will return to her role as director of sexual misconduct response and resources and Title IX coordinator.

Hagerty thanked Johnston for her leadership of the Office of Equity during the interim period.

“With support from the whole Office of Equity staff, Colleen has ensured that the office has continued to support the Northwestern community during an unusual and challenging moment,” Hagerty said. “Thanks to Colleen and the Office of Equity staff, TiShaunda will be able to step in and lead a high-functioning team.” 

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