University of Utah Enlists Spelman Johnson for Chief Safety Officer Search

December 10, 2019 – Executive recruitment firm Spelman Johnson has been chosen to find a chief safety officer for the University Of Utah in Salt Lake City. The university created the role in the wake of the murder of student-athlete Lauren McCluskey in October 2018. An independent review subsequently found that university police failed to respond properly to Ms. McCluskey’s concerns about the man who ultimately killed her. Search associate J. Scott Derrick is leading the assignment.

There were 80 original applicants for the position, which Spelman Johnson narrowed down to 16 candidates — 13 men and three women, according to the Daily Utah Chronicle, the school’s student newspaper. The university’s search committee then settled on four finalists—three men and one woman. A final selection was expected by the end of this week.

The CSO will be charged with providing leadership, development, coordination and direction for all aspects of campus safety at the University of Utah, promoting a safe, secure, and service-oriented environment for all students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors, said Spelman Johnson.

Reporting to the chief financial officer, the CSO is responsible for ensuring the overall effective operation of campus safety and aligning the day-to-day security, public safety functions and safety initiatives with the university’s strategic plan, said the search firm. This position maintains a high public profile and serves as part of the senior leadership team, regularly attending president’s cabinet meetings and partnering with senior leadership and all levels of the university to develop and implement responsive and innovative policies and programs for university safety functions.

Job Qualifications

The chief safety officer will be expected to coordinate safety strategy with emergency management on the main campus and with health sciences; recommend and promote policies ensuring the physical safety of students, employees and guests of the university; and develop, oversee, implement and evaluate new campus safety projects alongside existing successful programs.

The new CSO must possess a broad and deep understanding of national best practices with regard to safety and security, change management, comprehensive collaboration and strategic visioning in a large and multifaceted setting on a flagship university campus, said Spelman Johnson. The CSO should be an experienced leader capable of managing complex situations, wholly committed to cooperation and partnering at the highest level, possessing a deep understanding of professional and transparent communication principles, and equipped to contribute at both a strategic and operational level at a large research institution.

It will be vital to identify a competent and visionary individual who can promote and develop the police chief and the Department of Public Safety, set and implement campus safety priorities and work in tandem with the chief financial officer and the other members of the administration to progressively, innovatively and comprehensively move the program forward, said the recruitment firm.

The position requires a bachelor’s degree (master’s preferred), as well as a minimum of 10 years of experience in the area of university campus safety, law enforcement, risk/safety management, emergency services or related field, and a minimum of five years in a supervisory capacity. Prior local, state or federal law enforcement experience is strongly preferred. Preference will also be given to candidates with prior experience in a higher education institution on an urban campus.

Top-Flight Recruiters

Founded in 1850, the University of Utah is a public, Top-Tier 1 research university. As the state’s flagship university, the university is classified among “Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity,” and is a center of academics,  PAC-12 sports and the health sciences. The university serves over 33,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional program students. With 18 colleges and schools and more than 100 departments/divisions, the University of Utah offers 113 distinct undergraduate degrees, concentrated into 89 majors within 25 broad fields of study. For graduate students, the S.J. Quinney College of Law, College of Engineering, College of Education, and David Eccles School of Business all offer degree programs. The U of U School of Medicine is the only medical school in the state.

Spelman Johnson is based in Easthampton, MA. Established in 1991, the search firm has helped hundreds of academic institutions identify professionals, pairing leaders with positions across all facets of colleges and universities. Other searches that the firm is conducting include: vice president for global diversity and inclusion at Portland State University, director of human resources at Stephen F. Austin State University and chiefs of police for George Washington University and the University of Utah, among other assignments.

Mr. Derrick earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Furman University and his master’s of education degree in student personnel services from the University of South Carolina. In a higher education career spanning 30 years, Mr. Derrick has worked at both public and private institutions, most recently as executive director of the Student Union & Cone University Center at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Previously, he served as the director of the Trone Student Center at Furman University, the director of student life at the College of Charleston, and assistant director of student activities at the University of Richmond.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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