The Ohio State University has named Katherine M. Lasher as the associate vice president for the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE), a key leadership position with oversight of the university’s response to reports of sexual- and gender-based harassment, violence and other forms of discrimination and harassment. The centralized office is responsible for the university’s compliance with Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal and state laws and university policies.
A lawyer by training, Lasher has been the senior leader of the Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equity at Central Michigan University since 2013. In that role, she also currently serves as Central Michigan’s Title IX coordinator and its affirmative action officer.
The consolidation of reporting and response functions reflects Ohio State’s continuous work to develop enhanced, robust protections for students, faculty and staff.
“Strong support and policies for students guide our every action in the university’s approach to campus safety,” said Ohio State President Michael V. Drake. “We work actively to put values-based policies and procedures in place to prevent misconduct, rapidly address issues when they occur and provide support to those affected.”
Lasher will lead a unit that has been structured to achieve four primary goals:
- Ensure a consistent and coordinated response for every student and employee who seeks assistance.
- Provide coordinated intake and outreach support, including help in understanding resolution options and in accessing university and community resources.
- Ensure rigorous, fair and impartial review of complaints by trained and experienced professionals through a process that prioritizes procedural protections for all involved. Centralizing the report and response structure further ensures that allegations of criminal behavior are reported to law enforcement.
- Monitor and address patterns and trends across campus.
“Our students and employees must learn and work in an environment that is fair, safe and just,” Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron said. “Ohio State is committed to that standard, and Katherine will guide our work to ensure we meet this level of excellence.”
OIE is within the Office of Academic Affairs, and Lasher will report directly to the provost.
The new office is the most recent action taken by the university as part of its regular and ongoing review and refinement of efforts designed to provide a safe and supportive environment for all students, employees and visitors. Building on systems already in place over the past two decades, Ohio State has established multiple programs to address sexual misconduct issues and expand Title IX initiatives. These include:
- Creation of the Office of University Compliance and Integrity in 2012 following a comprehensive, external assessment of compliance functions across campus.
- Conducted in 2015 a campus climate survey in partnership with the Association of American Universities to identify and provide increased training for awareness and prevention programming. Ohio State continues to conduct annual climate surveys, most recently this spring.
- Launch in 2015 of Buckeyes ACT, a community-wide approach to combat sexual misconduct through action, counseling and support, and training.
- Established requirement in autumn 2018 that all staff, faculty and students complete online sexual misconduct prevention education.
“Ohio State is one of this nation’s great land-grant universities, and I look forward to collaborating with students, faculty and staff to advance this office’s important mission,” Lasher said. “I am pleased to be returning to my home state to continue my work to ensure equitable treatment for all.”
She will start Aug. 1.
McPheron said Lasher’s record of achievement aligns with the improvements Ohio State has made in recent years. During her tenure at Central Michigan, Lasher:
- Developed and implemented the university’s first comprehensive sexual misconduct policy for students, faculty and staff.
- Directed the development of harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct awareness training programs.
- Improved and expanded tracking and case management systems.
- Led an initiative to require training for incoming first-year students on healthy relationships, consent and bystander intervention.
Before she was hired by Central Michigan in 2012, Lasher was an attorney with Graydon Head & Ritchey, LLP in Cincinnati. Lasher was also previously a judicial law clerk for the First District Court of Appeals in Ohio for Judge J. Howard Sundermann and a judicial law clerk for the Office of Administrative Law Judges.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and a Juris Doctor from the University of Cincinnati, which honored her with the Nicholas J. Longworth III Alumni Achievement Award for her contributions to the College of Law.