December 7, 2022

Ruth Davison: Sharing Title IX Resources

As a student at Mary Washington, Ruth Davison stepped into many of the leadership roles and seminal moments still on the list of students today. She served as president of her freshman hall (Mason), and president of the student senate her senior year. She met her best friends in college, and her roommate is now just half an hour away. She planned to major in economics, with an idea to work on Wall Street, but she changed her plans and majors to history and world religion.

Director of Compliance and Title IX/ADA Coordinator Ruth Davison

Director of Compliance and Title IX/ADA Coordinator Ruth Davison

Those majors led her around the world, first to work with Southern Baptist missionaries and an opportunity to travel to Gaborone, Botswana. There, Davison worked with a Mary Washington alum to develop a Baptist Campus Center at a large university. She then pursued a MDiv, followed by another stint overseas in Stuttgart, Germany, for a year. She earned another master’s degree and a Ph.D., both in higher education administration. She knew working in a collegiate setting was where she could make the most difference, but what she might not have realized at the time is that it would eventually lead back to her alma mater. Davison returned to UMW this summer to serve as the Director of Compliance and Title IX/ADA Coordinator.

Her Ph.D. research centered on higher education law, both at the federal and state levels, with a focus on the educational environment. Ruth has worked with Title IX compliance and processes for more than half of her career, with a range of roles from investigator to deputy coordinator. She stays current on the legal requirements by teaching a higher education law class for 15 years – just a portion of the time that Title IX has been in existence.

Now in its 50th year, Title IX comes with requirements and resources, and it’s those supports that Davison wants to make sure the campus understands.

“I always want students, staff and faculty to know there are many resources to assist them should they experience sexual harassment or sexual violence. Title IX can connect folks with those resources. The 50th anniversary is a great way to reflect on and celebrate how Title IX has enhanced equity across the education sector. But we still have a lot of work to do to reduce sexual harassment and sexual violence and minimize the impact on our students, staff and faculty,” she said. “When someone in our community experiences sexual harassment or violence, Title IX can provide the supports and processes to allow them to fully participate in their student, faculty or staff role at Mary Washington.”

Q: How did you discover Mary Washington?
A: I had an older sister who came to Mary Washington before me and my parents really encouraged me to try the “college.”

Q: What’s your favorite part of campus and why?
A: I have really enjoyed Campus Walk these past few months. This used to be a drive-through road when I was a student. Now it is such a focal point and I love how it connects the campus.

Q: What drew you to this career?
A: I love being in an educational environment and working with students. It’s exciting to be a small part of people’s educational journey. I also love higher education because employees are encouraged to be lifelong learners!

Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
A: My work is very people centered and typically I meet folks when they are experiencing difficult situations and incidents. This is challenging but it’s the first step in assisting them to move forward with their journey here at Mary Washington.

Q: What’s most rewarding?
A: Helping students, staff and faculty is an amazing part of the work.

Q: What do you want campus to know about Title IX?
A: Title IX is about equity and ensuring folks can engage fully at the university.

Q: What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
A: When I lived in Botswana, I travelled extensively through South Africa. I had the opportunity to go on a safari where we tracked lion for several days. If that was not exciting enough, we were chased by elephants – thrilling and scary at the same time!

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I enjoy music, reading and spending time with family. I am also looking forward to traveling more in the near future.

Q: Any mottos you live by?
A: Maya Angelou – “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”