New Title IX coordinator says complex student needs must be met

Edwin Cowell

Edwin Cowell recently joined University of the Pacific as its new Title IX coordinator.

Edwin Cowell says the difficult experiences many college students have faced while growing up makes work challenging—but vital—for Title IX administrators in higher education.

“No two students are the same, and many have faced issues parallel to those impacting adults,” said Cowell, who recently joined University of the Pacific as Title IX coordinator. “The global pandemic, changing political landscapes and issues of social justice are among the challenges. We must meet students where they are.”

Cowell comes to Pacific from the College of William and Mary, a highly regarded liberal arts university in Williamsburg, Virginia. He has a deep educational background with experience running a Title IX office, serving as dean of students, working in diversity, equity and inclusion and more.

“Edwin has the attributes and experiences necessary to successfully lead our Title IX office,” said Maria Blandizzi, vice president for student life. “His background will be an asset in ensuring educational opportunities are in safe and comforting environments.”

Title IX of the Educational Amendment Act of 1972 states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Cowell said Title IX work at universities is evolving to intensify the focus on the prevention of harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct.

“We have to do our best to ensure students can pursue education safely,” he said. “This challenge comes at a time when many schools are struggling financially. Successful universities commit themselves to best practices and are not afraid to push the envelope.

“If you fail to evolve and don’t recognize that student bodies and their needs are changing, then you end up as one of those schools that constantly finds itself trying to play catch up.”

Cowell said he is interested in learning more about Pacific’s three university cities (Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco). His public-service background includes four years (2014-18) on the Fruitland (Maryland) City Council. He also served on a mayor’s task force on crime.

Cowell earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Virginia Wesleyan College and a master’s in education administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is working on his doctoral dissertation at William and Mary.

In addition to the draw of Pacific, Cowell and his wife Charmaine look forward to the move west. They have two grown sons who live in San Diego and Denver.

“Sons” is a theme for his family, Cowell said. He was one of eight siblings—all boys.

“I had no sisters while growing up. Just us eight rollicking boys,” he said with a laugh. “We look forward to joining the Pacific team, and also getting to see our family more often.”

Edwin’s favorites

Book: “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom

Movie: “The Sound of Music” (“It was the first movie I saw in a theater.”)

Television show: “Ted Lasso”

Food: Pizza

Hobby or interest: Listening to all types of music