As the University of Dallas strives to create an atmosphere of safety for its students, a new Title IX Coordinator has recently been hired. Dr. Inelda Acosta joins the university having an extensive background in education experience and feels called to serve at UD.
Acosta started Jan. 26 of this year and though it hasn’t been too long, she remarked that the time has flown by so far while working at UD. “At first I was thinking its only been two weeks, but then I realized no, its been four weeks.”
Acosta had been looking for her next opportunity when she saw an advertisement for the Title IX director job at UD. She applied in early October and then received a phone call in November asking if she was still interested in the job. From there, she underwent an extensive interviewing process, with the first round being interviewed by a committee and then going to UD to get a feel for the campus and conduct one-on-one interviews.
“The process was rigorous,” Acosta said. Though the questions were challenging, she appreciated how meaningful they were, especially since they related to her previous Title IX experiences. “They were thought provoking, and it allowed me to share my experiences,” Acosta said.
Prior to UD, Acosta has 22 years of education experience in the K-12 area. She began her career in education in 1999, working as an educator for a third grade bilingual class. After a break, she then taught 7th and 8th grade English for ESL students for seven years. From there she transitioned into campus administration, working as an assistant principal followed by being a principal for the largest junior high school in Arlington ISD.
She then worked as a chief of Human Resources for both Cedar Hill ISD and with the Education Service Center Region 11. In between her time as a principal and HR director, she finished her degree at UD, earning a doctorate in Educational Leadership Policy Studies. Getting the position at UD had been a long time goal that Acosta had hoped to achieve. “My ultimate goal was to be at a university as an administrator, and you can say that I reached that goal,” Acosta said.
In the last few years, UD has seen several Title IX directors. Dr. Jonathan Sanford, president of UD, noted that the university strives to take the proper time and steps in selecting someone for such an important position. “It’s really important to have someone who is sensitive to our mission in this role, but also has the practical experience to do the job really effectively,” Sanford said.
Acosta had high praises for her predecessor, Luciana Hampilos, especially in establishing the key elements of a Title IX office. “I haven’t seen those types of systems embedded in an organization and so she did a phenomenal job establishing that,” Acosta said.
She added that it’s too early to be determined if any changes have to be made to the department, and believes that conversations with students can determine what the best course of action is. “I might have an idea, but if the students don’t see that it’s the area we need to move into, then why change it? Improvement and change is essential to the development of programs. At this time, the system is designed to support students and if I see that students are not supported, we will revisit the system,” Acosta said.
One of Acosta’s main goals as Title IX director is to ensure that students feel capable of approaching her if issues come up. “I want students to know that they can come forward and that I am a resource for them,” Acosta said.
Though she acknowledges that certain situations will require compliance procedures to be followed, she stressed that she wants UD students to have the best college experience possible even when these difficult times arise. “I want them to know that it’s more than just compliance, that I know it affects them. It’s their experience in college and I want them to have a great experience,” Acosta said.
At the end of the day, Acosta wants students to be able to come to Title IX without fear. “I don’t want them to see the Title IX Office as a place where people go when someone’s in trouble,” Acosta said. “I’m not a counselor by any means, but if I could at least even help them navigate their difficult challenges or thoughts or experiences, I would be more than happy to help them with that as well.”