Chief Safety Officer Marlon Lynch has announced he will be leaving the University of Utah at the end of March to accept a similar position at his alma mater Michigan State University. Keith Squires, former Utah Commissioner of Public Safety and currently Lynch’s executive officer, will serve as interim CSO.
“It is with mixed emotions I leave Utah,” Lynch said. “This new opportunity was unexpected, and my decision was not an easy one to make. In addition to enabling me to be closer to my family, I have deep connections to MSU, which is my alma mater and an institution attended by a number of my family members.
“Over the past year, my team has accomplished amazing work on an extremely fast track, restructuring safety operations in a way that positions the university to carry this momentum well into the future and achieve a true transformation of safety on our campus,” Lynch said.
Lynch was named as the U’s chief safety officer in December of 2019 and formerly served in top law enforcement and safety positions at New York University, Vanderbilt University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte and North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro. Lynch will be the inaugural vice president for public safety and chief of police at MSU, reporting to the president and serving as an active member of the president’s leadership team. The position is responsible for the overall planning, development and implementation of a comprehensive and dynamic public safety and law enforcement program at Michigan State University.
“We’re disappointed to be losing Marlon but wish him the very best in this new role,” said Cathy Anderson, the university’s chief financial officer. “Marlon is a nationally recognized campus safety expert, so it comes as no surprise that he is highly sought after. During the year he has been with us he has transformed our university’s public safety functions that traditionally reported through the chief of police.
“The new divisions and oversight committees he created have helped foster improved collaboration across campus and have resulted in dramatic improvements in the way services are provided to our campus community,” Anderson said. “These are lasting changes that establish a solid foundation for future innovation and growth.”
In addition to his work at the U, Lynch has played an important role as an advisor on campus safety for the Utah Board of Higher Education and as chief safety officer for the Utah System of Higher Education. In this role, he has helped facilitate a system-wide campus safety study to help identify and establish best practices at all state colleges and universities in Utah.
Anderson will direct the search for Lynch’s replacement, which is expected to begin later this year following appointment of a new university president. During the search that resulted in Lynch’s hiring, the recruiting firm representing the U received interest from more than 80 initial applicants. From that group, 16 candidates—13 men and three women—were forwarded to the U’s search committee for consideration. Ultimately, four candidates were brought to campus for meetings, interviews and public forums with students, staff and faculty, who were invited to provide feedback on each individual. Anderson said a similar process will be followed during the next search.
“Marlon set the bar high as our inaugural chief safety officer, transforming the way we manage safety on our campus,” said President Ruth V. Watkins. “He achieved meaningful change and has put us on the right track to be a national model of campus safety.”
The hiring of a cabinet-level chief safety officer was among one of the most significant and visible investments made to campus safety by Watkins. Lynch moved quickly after joining the U in making changes to the public safety infrastructure with the goal of increasing capacity, improving accountability and transparency and moving safety efforts forward to best serve the U community. For the latest updates from University Safety, visit the University Safety news webpage.
Campus safety improvements implemented under Marlon Lynch
- Immediately after joining the U, Lynch restructured public safety functions at the university. Instead of all units reporting through the chief of police, all divisions are now separate and report directly to the chief safety officer. These include U Health Security, Campus Security, Emergency Services, University Police and a newly created division called Community Services.
- In addition to the five operational divisions, Lynch created a new, centralized administrative Office of the Chief Safety Officer, which is responsible for the department’s strategic initiatives, strategic communication and marketing, relationships with external public safety agencies, public safety committee management, community engagement and security and law enforcement technologies. The office provides staffing and leadership for the Racist and Bias Incident Response Team, the Clery Compliance Committee, as well as the campus Surveillance System Administrators Committee.
- The Community Services division has already grown from one to three employees and will continue to expand its services. These employees are social workers and are working to develop and implement a joint response and independent services for victims and mental health crises. It has also been approved as a practicum site for Master of Social Work students, which will allow it to both increase capacity and provide valuable real-world clinical experience to future social workers. This is in addition to the Victim-Survivor Advocates who are part of the U’s Center for Student Wellness. Currently, its crisis support specialists work in tandem with police and campus partners to support victims of all crimes and are available 24/7.
- Two new public safety oversight committees also were established this year—a Public Safety Advisory Committee and an Independent Review Committee. They are comprised of students, faculty and staff from across the institution and are designed to ensure a broad representation of constituents are included in public safety decision-making.
- University Safety is working toward achieving accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The process is expected to take 36 months and should be completed by late 2023.
- The Office of the Chief Safety Officer also has invested in communication, including a new website for University Safety that includes news and updates from across the different divisions, data and information about the Annual Safety Report, campus alerts, a crime log and more. A new records management system, to be implemented later in 2021, will allow the team to provide additional real-time data and trends about safety incidents.
- Under Lynch’s guidance, a new public safety building (including improved workspace for providing victim support) was designed and is expected to open before the end of 2021.