The search for the next "Hugh" begins
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Updated: Sunday, March 10, 2013 00:03
For the first time since the early 1980s, Lafayette is looking for a new Director of Public Safety.
“The Director,” according to the job description, “is responsible for managing and overseeing all security, safety and law enforcement functions of the campus and College community.”
Having arrived at Lafayette in 1982, Director of Public Safety Hugh Harris announced his retirement during the fall semester.
“The college is in the early stages of the search at this point,” Vice President for Finance and Administration Mitch Wein said.
Lafayette is searching for a replacement on a national scale, according to Wein. The search committee is composed of nine people including one student, a faculty member, administrators, and representatives from the Easton Area Police Department, with whom Public Safety frequently works. Candidates will be recommended to Wein and Vice President for Campus Life Annette Diorio who will also solicit the input of the Board of Trustees.
Changes to college policy could coincide with the arrival of a new director, though he or she would not be able to make changes at will.
“Any time someone comes in, they look at it afresh,” Wein said of how Public Safety would function. “They look at policies, practices, and protocols afresh. How the college operates or has protocols or policies on its own, could be influenced by the new Public Safety Director, however, we’ll follow Campus Life’s direction and control.”
Harris explained that his successor may have a different way of enforcing college policies—on underground organizations for example—and investigating them, but it is ultimately up to Campus Life to form policies and discipline.
Though he is retiring from the director position, Harris plans to act as a consultant for Public Safety, offering his input. Harris’s priority is to help ensure a smooth transition for his successor. He has even offered to serve beyond his intended date of retirement should the search take longer than expected.
“I would try to explain why we do what we do,” said Harris of helping his successor. “To me, one of the things that I would stress is to reach out and work with the campus community. Work with the school newspaper, work with the administrators of the different departments, work with the different faculty members, work with the different student organizations.”
Continuing to craft the image of Public Safety among students as an organization that preserves “safety” will be an important job for Harris’s successor.
“What we try to get across to the students, it’s all about the safety of the students,” Harris said. “We’ve always tried to get that message across, but it’s hard to get across because people focus on the punishment.”
During his tenure, Harris oversaw numerous reforms in Public Safety.
“He has greatly expanded the scope of Public Safety’s responsibilities to include police/law enforcement services, with greater capability to conduct investigations, and environmental health and safety services,” Wein wrote in a campus-wide email announcing Harris’s retirement.
The new director will take office effective June 30.