Q&A with Jane Cassidy, Interim Vice President of Civil Rights & Title IX

03/18/2021
BATON ROUGE - Jane Cassidy has been a part of the LSU family for 33 years. She was first hired in 1988 as an Assistant Professor in the School of Music. Since then, she has worked hard to forge relationships, conduct groundbreaking research and create change on campus. In her newest role as Interim Vice President for Civil Rights & Title IX, Cassidy will lead the campus to make LSU safer and stronger through changes to policies and procedures, and supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence. “We are going to work hard and we will take a step forward every single day,” Cassidy said.

jane cassidy headshot
Jane Cassidy, Interim Vice President for Civil Rights & Title IX.

How are you uniquely qualified for this Interim Vice President position?
For right now, today, this position needs to have someone who can get things done at LSU. After a dozen years in Academic Affairs, I know how to develop organization charts, hire people, revise policy, and bring people together to resolve complex issues. Probably most importantly, I know A LOT of really great people on campus who need to be in the conversations we will be having. We plan to work collaboratively together to solve problems. Also, I would say my years as a music educator and my research in music therapy have all been focused on team activities and support for the vulnerable. Whether it was a group of children working on a performance, developing classroom culture that welcomed children with disabilities, or developing therapeutic techniques that would improve physiological responses from critically premature infants, I have always been committed to working collaboratively with a group, and being compassionate and nonjudgmental in the way I interact with others.

What do you hope to accomplish in this new interim role?
In the short term, I hope to increase the staff in the Title IX office so they have the resources to support the people who reach out for help. I hope we revise policy and protocols on campus such that we have highly functional and fair processes for reporting and handling cases of discrimination and sexual misconduct. I hope we get these processes in motion and communicated to our campus community such that everyone knows how to report abuses. I hope we increase awareness of sexual misconduct and provide education that will help prevent this from happening in the first place. These are the highlights from the Husch Blackwell report, and frankly are things we all know we should be doing. I am sorry it took media attention to get this moving, but I am thankful for the Husch Blackwell report to help us prioritize these actions.

What do you hope this new office is able to accomplish?
The goal is to change the campus culture. It will take a long time, because we know this is not unique to LSU, to Baton Rouge, nor to Louisiana. Unfortunately, sexual misconduct and discrimination are alive and well everywhere. But we can take many, many steps to begin the path toward culture change. Accomplishing the action items in the Husch Blackwell report are an excellent start. However, as with any behavior change, it is often the maintenance and sustaining behavior change that are equally as difficult. So while we will be checking off some boxes, this office needs to be vigilant to make sure successes continue.

How can we as a community work together to make LSU a better, safer, more inclusive place?
If you see something, say something. Be kind to one another. Check in with your friends, colleagues, students and co-workers. Make sure you REALLY know how their day is going and if they need support. Educate yourself on where you can advise them to turn for help. It will be clear and easy to find resources, but if you are not sure where to turn, contact the Title IX office and we will get you to the right place.

Is there a time or experience at LSU that particularly stands out to you? 
Well, I have to say that the highlight of my career will always be my time as a faculty member. There is no greater privilege than teaching students. I loved being in the classroom, doing research, and being involved in professional responsibilities on campus and on the national stage that promoted things I cared about. I still keep in touch with dozens of former students, and many more by watching their families and careers through Facebook. I am happy, though, to be working now on solutions that will help create a healthier environment for LSU.

 

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LSU Media Relations
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Ernie Ballard
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