Rachael Pauze ’07 takes on tough role

Director of Title IX compliance.

It is a job that requires one to know a complex and ever-evolving federal law inside out; help an institution continually live up to the law’s high standards and comply with the very detailed and stringent guidance from the government; and conduct training so that students, staff and faculty fully understand it—while overseeing investigations and equitably and compassionately guiding individuals through an emotionally charged process when violations are reported. And any missteps can land in the media spotlight.

This is the work Rachael Pauze has chosen to do at Wheaton.

The Class of 2007 alumna is more than comfortable in the position. “You know that you’ve come to a great point in your career when you connect your skills and experience and then use them in a way that contributes to a cause that you care about,” says Pauze, a lawyer. “This is a job where I can use my background in policy and compliance on something that I’m passionate about—gender equity. This is also a very interesting area of law right now, one that is still evolving, so it’s a great opportunity to jump in and be a part of that.”

Title IX requires every educational institution to provide an environment free from discrimination, which includes sexual violence. The issue of sexual misconduct on college and university campuses has been headline news during the past several years, as many institutions grapple with the challenge of investigating and conducting hearings when sexual misconduct is reported.

In fact, Wheaton was the subject of news stories last year after a now-resolved U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation found areas where the college needed to improve regarding complying with federal regulations. However, the DOJ also acknowledged Wheaton’s progress and work in fostering a safe and healthy campus environment.

The college over the years has increased its efforts to prevent and address sexual misconduct on campus in keeping with its own goal (and Title IX’s) of creating a campus environment that is safe for all and free of gender-based discrimination.

Wheaton created the position of full-time director of Title IX compliance in 2016, after having a part-time coordinator, acknowledging the importance and complexity of the work.

Pauze is charged with coordinating education, prevention and outreach efforts; coordinating the ongoing review and revision of policies and procedures; and leading the college’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct.

She strives to be approachable in all that she does. “I want students to know who I am, to see that I’m committed to the community, and to feel like they can come to me,” she says.

Pauze, who majored in history, most recently worked at the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure in Boston, where she served as legal counsel, ensuring due process in consumer complaint and hearing procedures. She also served as attorney and regulator for the division’s Office of Private Occupational School Education, a state office with oversight of approximately 25 post-secondary Title IX schools.

While attending Suffolk University Law School, she completed her clinic work with the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office, serving as a victim witness advocate for individuals seeking 209A protection orders. She also has served as a volunteer attorney with the Women’s Bar Foundation, representing victims of domestic violence in family law matters.

She has been looking for an opportunity to return to Wheaton and says she is happy to have found a place “where I’m using the training and skills I’ve developed to address something I care deeply about. You want your work to matter, and while this area can be challenging, it’s so important.”