Jessica Beeson
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Panel features alumna with major role in Title IX actions at KU

Tue, 03/26/2013

LAWRENCE — More than 40 years after the passing of the revolutionary Title IX legislation, women enjoy more educational opportunities than ever before in United States history. However, the passing of Title IX did not cause immediate change across the nation.

Ann LevinsonAt the University of Kansas, one female student athlete led the fight for Title IX compliance, charting the course for universities around the nation working for equal rights for female students.

Anne Levinson, who received her Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1980 from KU, will return to campus Thursday, March 28, to discuss her work for Title IX at KU, as well as her later career as a judge, WNBA team owner and public official. The panel will take place at 7 p.m. in the Big 12 Room in the Kansas Union.

Levinson will be joined on the panel by former faculty, administrators and students who were active in the Title IX movement at KU in the 1970s and 1980s. She will also visit classes in political science and women, gender and sexuality studies to discuss her career in public service. Her visit is part of the Professor for a Day program through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Chancellor Emeritus Del Shankel will moderate the panel. Reggie Robinson, professor of law at Washburn University; Steve Leben, Kansas Court of Appeals judge, and Betty Banks, professor emerita of classics, will be on the panel with Levinson.

Each member of the panel played a part in the fight for Title IX compliance at KU. After the amendment passed in 1972, universities across the nation grappled with how to enforce the legislation prohibiting discrimination by calling for equal access to opportunities and benefits regardless of sex in any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. At KU, as at many universities, the issue of matched funding, support and services for female athletes met heavy resistance.

Levinson, a member of the KU field hockey team, received the sole scholarship for the team and shortly found out that KU planned to cancel the team – and most other women’s sports. Encouraged by Banks, Levinson researched Title IX and filed a suit against the university. The government investigated, and the university formed a plan to comply with the regulations.

“Title IX work consumed my university activities,” Levinson said. “It turned out to provide my path and the path for thousands of women who attended KU after that.”

After graduating from KU, Levinson attended law school to pursue her newfound passion for social justice. Later, during her time as a municipal judge in Seattle, she founded one of the nation’s first mental health courts to help individuals with mental health issues get out of the judicial system and connect them with treatment and services. She also served as the deputy mayor of Seattle, and Levinson became an owner of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm in a successful effort to keep the team from moving to Oklahoma.

Levinson now serves as a consultant to Seattle on issues of police misconduct. She remains active in political and civic issues, including successfully leading the support for Referendum 71 as one of the state’s first openly LGBT public officials. The referendum gave same-sex families the same rights and legal protections as opposite-sex families in Washington.

“I think it’s important for young people, particularly young women, to question whether something really can’t be done or if there are other ways to do it,” Levinson said. “It will always seem there are not enough hours in the day, but everybody can contribute to positive change.”

The Professor for a Day program is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which encourages learning without boundaries in its more than 50 departments, programs and centers. Through innovative research and teaching, the College emphasizes interdisciplinary education, global awareness and experiential learning. It is the broadest and most diverse academic unit at KU.

Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here:
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

.@KU bschool 's KIP team includes @KU _SADP students in all-ages housing project. #KUworks
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
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46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
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