After the unexpected departure of three of its top officials, Claremont University Consortium (CUC) Campus Safety is left without an experienced director. The organization is presently interviewing for a new permanent director.
According to John Beckman, CUC Chief Administrative Officer, the unfavorable financial market forced CUC to develop a cost reduction plan that would decrease its operating budget by 9.5 percent. As part of this plan, CUC offered an early retirement plan to all of its staff members who were 55 or older and had ten or more years of continuous service with CUC.
Among the employees who opted to take the early retirement plan in July 2009 were former Director of Campus Safety Lena Robinson, Captain Mohammed Yaccoob, and Sergeant John Teuber.
“I know for a fact that none of the people at Campus Safety that took the retirement plan were thinking of retiring when they did,” said Pomona Associate Dean of Students and Dean of Campus Life Ric Townes. “I think they were all near retirement, but I don’t think they would have retired last summer if there wasn’t an attractive offer for them.”
“I don’t think the college has ever faced a situation like that,” he said.
After losing their three top officials, Campus Safety named Lieutenant Paul Alexander the Acting Director of Campus Safety. However, Alexander was forced to take medical leave at the end of December 2009 and will not return to Campus Safety until the end of February, when he will resume his post as Lieutenant.
After Alexander took medical leave, a search committee was formed to find a full-time Director of Campus Safety. According to Beckman, four finalists have been chosen, and full-day interviews with them are scheduled for late February. Beckman said he hoped the new director would be identified by March. Until CUC selects a candidate to take on the job permanently, Campus Safety is under the supervision of a temporary director.
To find someone for this short-term position, CUC contacted Securitas Security Services USA, an American security company that provides security officers to meet the needs of a range of businesses. Chan Mean, a former Security Manager at Toyota North American Parts Center in Ontario, was named Interim Director of Campus Safety. He has never previously worked with Campus Safety.
Mean joined Campus Safety on Jan. 11 to assist Beckman, who had taken temporary responsibility for Campus Safety when Alexander left, with the management of the Department. Currently, Beckman provides strategic direction for the department while Mean controls the day-to-day operations. This arrangement will remain in effect until a new director is hired.
“The most challenging part of this transition to me was understanding the geography of the seven colleges,” said Mean. “The first few days were really interesting when I was exploring the grounds. All the fundamentals of how a Safety Department should be operated are very similar to my previous experience.”
A replacement for Teuber’s former position has already been hired and is currently in training. However, Beckman said that any decisions about replacing Yaccoob will be deferred until a new director is hired.
According to Beckman, Campus Safety is always concerned with supplying a high standard of safety to the Claremont Colleges, especially during an unprecedented transition like this one. He said there have been no major problems during the transition and that everyone in the department has stepped up to ensure that Campus Safety continues to function smoothly.
However, Townes said during the transition the normal protocols for communication have not been functioning the way they normally would have. When bike thefts occurred on the Claremont Colleges over winter break, Townes was only informed after the fact, through a Campus Safety notice sent out to the entire student body. He said prior to the retirements, Campus Safety staff would have informed him immediately.
Townes added in past years Campus Safety would have called him to discuss how to handle events like last week’s Parents’ Weekend; however, this year he was not able to speak with them about the event and the resultant parking issues until early in the week before the event. Similarly, Campus Safety ticketed some student vehicles this semester on the days that students were returning to campus after the winter holiday, something that Townes said resulted from a lack of communication with the new staff.
“That’s the kind of thing where I think there are communication gaps when you bring in people who don’t know the history,” said Townes. “I didn’t usually have to contact Campus Safety to say, ‘Don’t ticket.’ They would have called me. The new director isn’t going to have the history either, because he or she isn’t going to have the same staff around with the history.”
However, Townes added that his overall communication with Campus Safety since winter break has been good.
“Dr. Beckman has high expectations for Campus safety and so do I,” said Mean. “With that in common it has not been difficult for us to set standards for the department and move forward.”