Students assist in selecting new UI Director of Public Safety

By Michael Logli

After former Executive Director of Public Safety Oliver J. Clark retired, the Interim Director Kris Fitzpatrick took his place. The University created a committee to search for a permanent replacement, and they hope to recommend someone with the students’ best interests in mind, said Renee Romano, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and head of the committee.

“The students are one of the main constituencies of people in the area, and it is important that their opinions are considered,” Romano said.

The director of public safety heads the University police department and oversees the Champaign and Urbana police departments, as well as the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office. Because of the director’s large sphere of influence over the citizens of the twin cities and the students, it is important that the new director can identify with the student body and still keep the community safe, Romano said.

“It’s important to have the students feel that this person has their interests in mind,” Romano said.

The selection committee consists of eight members. Seema Kamath, junior in AHS, and Joe Glenn, sophomore in LAS, are the student representatives. With the other members of the committee, Kamath and Glenn went through applications, created interview questions and conducted some of the phone interviews, Glenn said. Their interview questions related to important matters on campus such as the effect of cultural diversity and community-based policing, all of which are student concerns, he said.

“We want someone who could work with diversity, but one of the things we were really concerned with was (experience with) community-based policing,” Glenn said. “It’s one of our strongest traits.”

Another important factor in the decision will be whether or not the candidate can handle the different communities, Kamath said.

“U of I is a very big school with a small town, and you need someone with a lot of experience working in a large community and a small town,” Kamath said.

The committee’s decision about the new director will not be made until May or June, but the final say belongs to Chancellor Richard Herman. The committee reports to him regularly concerning their thoughts about the candidates, Glenn said.

Kamath said she believes the student voice was heard and it will be a large factor in the chancellor’s decision.

“We all had different inputs on each candidate, and I felt that everyone’s input was valuable,” Kamath said. “We were needed.”