University appoints Title IX coordinator to oversee new office

December 02, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Paul Apicella, an attorney with experience overseeing Title IX implementation in a university setting, has been named Penn State’s Title IX coordinator, a position the University created as one part of its efforts to address sexual misconduct.

Under Title IX, universities cannot discriminate based on sex, which can include sexual misconduct.

The appointment, effective Nov. 30, follows a national search. Apicella will oversee the newly formed office responsible for ensuring not only that Penn State is meeting the requirements of federal law, but also carrying out the recommendations made by the Task Force on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment earlier this year. That includes spearheading a range of initiatives across the University focused on prevention, awareness and education.

“Paul brings to a complex set of leadership responsibilities a nice blend of experience, insight and personal qualities,” said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs. “The search committee and the several dozen students, faculty and staff who participated in the interview process were greatly impressed by Paul, and yet we know that Paul alone cannot accomplish all that we hope to achieve by creating the new Title IX office at Penn State. Paul’s first task is to identify and hire other staff members, whose experience and expertise will combine with his to lead the effort, at all Penn State locations, to establish a model program that minimizes sexual misconduct and effectively addresses it when it occurs. I am eager to join with Paul in that effort.”

Apicella comes to Penn State from Drexel University, where he had served as deputy Title IX coordinator for students and Title IX compliance specialist since June 2014. In that role, Apicella conducted investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct and discrimination. He helped coordinate compliance with Title IX, the Violence Against Women Act and the Clery Act.

“I am extremely honored to have been selected as the new Title IX coordinator at Penn State, and am excited to hit the ground running,” Apicella said. “Creating an educational environment that is free from sexual violence and other forms of sex- or gender-based discrimination is more than just a matter of legal compliance, it is an issue that is fundamental to the University’s mission and core values. As Title IX coordinator, I embrace the challenge of maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for all members of our University community at University Park and each of the Commonwealth campuses.”

The creation of Penn State’s stand-alone Title IX coordinator position was one of 18 recommendations made by the Task Force for ways the University can be a leader when it comes to combatting sexual misconduct and abuse. The committee conducted an extensive review of the University’s existing resources as well as an evaluation of what new initiatives should be pursued. President Eric Barron accepted all of the recommendations in February 2015, and the University has already begun to put many of them in place.

Apicella will oversee the continued implementation of that work, including ensuring all University locations have the resources needed to implement the recommendations; implementing appropriate employee training; working with local law enforcement; and providing educational opportunities for students. In addition to Apicella and a trained investigator, the office will have an education coordinator and support staff.

“I understand that raising awareness in our community regarding issues of sexual or gender-based violence and discrimination — including the related resources and support services available through the University — is of primary importance,” Apicella said. “To that end, I look forward to making the engagement of our students, faculty and staff in a robust dialogue regarding these issues my top priority moving forward.”

Before working at Drexel University, Apicella was an attorney with Ballard Spahr LLP. He earned a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Arizona and juris doctor from the Temple University Beasley School of Law. Before that he was enlisted in the U.S. Navy. 

  • Paul Apicella
    IMAGE: Christie Clancy
Last Updated December 02, 2015