From the Provost’s Desk: U of A hires first Sexual Violence Response Coordinator

Provost Steven Dew shares an update regarding the U of A's ongoing efforts toward preventing and responding to sexual violence within our community.


As part of our ongoing commitment to preventing and responding to sexual violence within our community, I am pleased to share that the University of Alberta has appointed its first Sexual Violence Response Coordinator. Deborah Eerkes, a nationally recognized expert and long-time U of A administrator, started the role on January 24, 2022. 

This new role is an important piece of the commitments I recently made to the university community regarding improving our institutional resources, services and tools for preventing and responding to acts of sexual violence. I thank the Students’ Union and the Graduate Students’ Association for helping make this position possible through advocacy and partial funding provided by the Mandatory Non-Instructional Fee increase approved last year. With the support of Deb and our campus community, we will continue to advance our goal of campuses that are free from sexual violence. 

Deb will be seconded to the Sexual Violence Response Coordinator role for a two-year period from her current position as Director of Student Conduct and Accountability. In her new role, she will work with stakeholders and units across the U of A to review and strengthen institutional policy and procedures, to ensure training programs are accessible and reflect best practices, and will help to build a network of expertise and resources across our campuses.

Since joining the U of A in 2000, Deb has held a number of positions and responsibilities, including Student Ombudsperson, University Discipline Officer, Human Rights Officer and her current Director role. She has been a key participant and leader of many institutional initiatives, including development of the Sexual Violence Policy, the restorative justice program in University residences, the Helping Individual at Risk policy suite, and the academic integrity program.

In addition to her work on campus, Deb is currently participating in the Courage to Act project, a national collaborative designed to create tools and strategies for post-secondary institutions in addressing gender-based violence.

While Deb is in the role of Sexual Violence Response Coordinator, Chris Hackett will be Acting Director of Student Conduct and Accountability.

With this hire and other services and resources, we look forward to continuing to make progress on this important initiative, ensuring campus is a safe environment for all students, faculty, staff and visitors. Please join me in welcoming Deb to her new role and supporting her on the critical work ahead.