RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITION
Under the supervision of the vice president of administration and finance, the associate vice president for safety and community wellbeing (AVP) leads the university police department (UPD) with vision and excellence. The AVP fosters sustainable and effective advancement of the police department and oversees safety-related committees and practices. The AVP champions a progressive law enforcement program, campus safety, and community wellbeing. The AVP exemplifies and instills equitable leadership and policies to enhance the safety and wellbeing of students from all backgrounds.
The AVP directs the efforts of UPD’s twenty-one staff members and orchestrates partnerships with faculty, staff, students, and nearby entities in law, medical, emergency management, and fire/rescue. The AVP advances student success through education-centered and socially just campus safety practices. They align expectations between UPD and stakeholders, championing UPD with campus leaders and cultivating a supportive and high-performing culture within UPD. The AVP counsels the Cal Poly Humboldt administration on safety and community wellbeing. The AVP will contribute to developing safety-informed infrastructure plans to support the polytechnic transformation.
The associate vice president for safety and community wellbeing will:
Lead and Manage
- Supervise 2 direct reports and provide executive oversight of all university police department personnel, including selection, training, evaluation, and discipline.
- Manage $3.1m departmental budget.
- Oversee and manage safety operations, communications, dispatch operations, and police patrol operations. The leader works in very close collaboration with Clery and Emergency Management units.
- Prioritize a holistic policing approach, assess and advance police reform across all levels, including diversion programs, and integrate restorative justice principles.
- Foster inclusivity within the department and empower the university police to be compassionate, responsive, and caring.
- Ensure UPD emphasizes diverse staff recruitment and retention, equitable policing practices, and engagement with historically underrepresented groups.
Outreach to Campus and Community Partners
- Develop, implement, and manage police co-responder models with the newly created community service specialist (civilian employee supporting community engagement efforts) and other internal or external partners.
- Sustain and evolve relationships with community programs and initiatives to build trust between police and the community.
- Collaborate to develop training and campaigns promoting community wellbeing, e.g., trauma-informed interviewing, early intervention, support for basic needs, etc.
- Oversee strategic communications to internal and external partners.
Campus Safety and Emergency Response Design, Planning, and Execution
- Assist with campus safety measures to all campus sites and is integral in infrastructure plans to support the polytechnic transformation.
- Assess and develop strategies for shared services or consolidation of services.
- Serve as an advocate for sustainable UPD operations related to campus expansion.
Administration and Finance Senior Leadership Team
- Function as a strategic leader in the administration and finance division, supporting the vice president in short- and long-term resource planning.
- Serve on university committees and assist with university-wide initiatives.
- Function as a campus leader and subject matter expert in safety, security, and emergency management initiatives.
- Advise senior leadership in planning campus safety initiatives and responding to crises.
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATE
Extensive and progressively responsible law enforcement or public safety administration experience, including significant management and administrative responsibility at the command level (lieutenant or above), and a deep understanding of campus safety in higher education is required. Candidates must possess experience discerning and addressing the interests and needs of multiple stakeholders, maintaining effective working relationships with students, colleagues, faculty, and community partners. It is essential that candidates exhibit excellent communication skills and demonstrate sustained efforts supporting a diverse and inclusive community, particularly regarding race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, and religion.
Ten years of experience with five years at the command level, including experience working in a collective bargaining environment and experience at a university-based law enforcement agency or complex organization, are preferred. Applicants must obtain a certificate at the management level within six months of the hiring date or maintain a current POST management certification in California.
Candidates requiring CA POST certification have up to six months to complete the requirements and are encouraged to engage in related activities during work hours. Please direct questions about CA POST requirements to: Lisa Holten at email@example.com or (916) 227-4871.
In addition to the qualifications stated above, key stakeholders identified the following capabilities and attributes of a successful candidate:
- Possess knowledge of modern law enforcement practices and legal issues, with a deep understanding of contemporary safety and policing challenges and opportunities.
- Champion modern and progressive interventions, focusing on humanizing policing in response to prevalent social justice issues.
- Display understanding of the higher education environment, i.e., shared governance, stakeholder engagement, use of educational sanctions, etc.
- Possess considerable relationship-building skills, seeing opportunities to intentionally build new relationships, cultivate existing partnerships, and strengthen vulnerable relationships.
- Demonstrate an authentic and deep knowledge of social justice issues and be capable of modeling and leading innovative and equity-based practices in campus safety services.
- Demonstrate responsible fiduciary experience and ability to manage complex budgets and grants to prepare for Cal Poly Humboldt’s impending growth.
- Anticipate emerging issues, swiftly and accurately analyze and effectively address situations.
- Demonstrate accountability, initiative, creative problem-solving, and adaptability.
- Display inclusion, humility, integrity, and compassionate leadership by example.
HISTORY OF THE POSITION
In 2022, Cal Poly Humboldt launched a search for a new chief of police when the former chief accepted a position closer to home. An experienced retired chief from the California system quickly assumed the role of interim chief, delivering substantial value and earning the title of associate vice president. Recognizing the need for a more expansive role, Cal Poly Humboldt decided to permanently establish the position as the associate vice president of safety and community wellness.
The interim AVP will remain in this capacity until a suitable successor is identified. Furthermore, the annual salary range has been increased, and is now $170,000 to $190,000, with a signing bonus equal to one month’s salary and six months of housing support.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
In transitioning to Cal Poly Humboldt, the associate vice president for safety and community wellbeing will encounter the following opportunities, priorities, and challenges, as shared by key campus stakeholders:
A stable and motivated department
Cal Poly Humboldt’s police department comprises dedicated, compassionate professionals deeply committed to community safety. The department has embraced community policing practices, actively engaging with and accessible to community members. The community-action-oriented students highly value these practices and look forward to the department’s ongoing innovation and progress at Cal Poly Humboldt.
Supported by the university administration and guided by the interim AVP’s leadership, coaching, and mentorship, UPD is witnessing a steady improvement in community trust, showcasing the tangible results of its hard work. It is a department characterized by mutual support among colleagues and strong backing from campus partners. Despite challenges in recruiting and retention due to competition from municipal departments and the region’s relatively low population density, department personnel have proven their resilience and commitment to meet the needs of the campus community.
The new AVP must attract and retain talented campus safety professionals to ensure advancements in campus safety, foster a proactive approach, alleviate staff fatigue, and mitigate the risks associated with staffing shortages. The UPD will experience a renewed sense of purpose with a leader eager to collaborate and build together.
Rapid growth in the region and the university
The newest additions to the Cal Poly Humboldt community are individuals ready for an exciting challenge—the opportunity to cultivate something new, distinctive, and better aligned with the local community and the environment. With the departure of much of the logging and other sectors that once characterized the area, Humboldt County is witnessing a transformation. New residents and industries center around green technology investments in offshore wind energy and ongoing regional digital infrastructure projects.
As part of its polytechnic transformation, Cal Poly Humboldt is constructing a campus microgrid and will become a resilient energy hub for the entire region. Despite the challenges posed by its rural location, these advancements are rendering Humboldt County increasingly appealing, boasting breathtaking natural beauty, a low risk of earthquakes and fires, and temperate weather conditions.
These progressions are driving substantial growth locally and at Cal Poly Humboldt, necessitating extensive construction efforts for new and refurbished campus buildings. Infrastructure redesign is currently in progress to support this expansion (see article on student housing and description of campus infrastructure projects). The AVP for safety and community wellbeing will be pivotal in ensuring the community’s safety during active construction and addressing the long-term safety and security considerations accompanying a significantly larger and more dispersed campus footprint.
An open campus with a deep connection to the community
Cal Poly Humboldt is an open campus, inviting general public visitors and the campus community to come and go freely. In Arcata and Cal Poly Humboldt, a small-town culture thrives, emphasizing cooperation, connection, and community support. This commitment to serving the community has always been integral to the campus culture.
Nonetheless, there are concerns related to the challenges of maintaining students’ sense of safety and mitigating the negative impacts of unaffiliated individuals on campus. In recent years, Cal Poly Humboldt invested in enhancing technology, including cameras and restricting access to certain buildings, to bolster safety and security. Such initiatives must evolve harmoniously with the community, guided by partnership and consensus-building.
Supporting social justice activism on campus
Cal Poly Humboldt and Arcata are known for their progressive cultures, set amidst a more conservative rural community. The students and community have a rich history of advocating for social justice, with these values deeply ingrained in their identity.
The new AVP must collaborate with diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice partners within the campus and the community to further infuse socially just practices into departmental recruitment, training initiatives, programs, and services.
Partnering to ensure mental health support for students
UPD, like many other campus safety entities, is increasing its focus on protecting students’ wellbeing and what will serve the overall wellbeing of the campus. UPD is critical in creating a model of integrated wellness.
The new AVP must excel in training staff to enhance responses to mental health issues and forge partnerships with campus colleagues to establish a comprehensive network of support and safety. Furthermore, the new AVP must maintain an organizational structure that can adapt to meet the institution’s evolving needs.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
The items listed below will define the new AVP’s success throughout the first year of employment:
- The AVP has developed and implemented a strategy for successfully recruiting and retaining high-quality UPD staff.
- Students are open to support from UPD, and UPD staff are trusted resources for students, faculty, staff, and the community.
- The AVP is visible on campus, known for intentional and active engagement, and has established solid relationships with all stakeholder groups.
- The AVP is known as a humble leader and recognized for taking time to learn about Cal Poly Humboldt, build on successes, and move forward.
- UPD is a trusted resource in the middle of a crisis. Partners and resources are known, resulting from a deep understanding of campus culture.
- The AVP is known as a skilled and transparent communicator, and the campus community feels comfortable providing feedback and sharing concerns.
OVERVIEW OF THE DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE
Under the supervision of the vice president for administration and finance, the division oversees all administrative affairs, including budget and finance, risk management, human resources, facilities management, and university police.
Leadership of the Division
Sherie Cornish Gordon – Vice President for Administration and Finance
Sherie Cornish Gordon serves as the vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer at Cal Poly Humboldt. Prior to her current role, she served as the chief of staff at Cal Poly Humboldt from July 2019 until May 2022. Gordon had a remarkable career before Cal Poly Humboldt in intercollegiate athletics, sports and entertainment.
OVERVIEW OF THE UNIVERSITY POLICE DEPARTMENT
The university police department, working under the division of finance and administration, is focused on protecting and ensuring the safety of the Cal Poly Humboldt community. The department works with the campus community to engage students in community safety, incorporate their voices in discussions about the community’s problems, and enlist their support in joint problem-solving.
The department oversees general crime prevention, law enforcement, security, criminal history background checks, and parking and commuter services.
Cal Poly Humboldt is a comprehensive, residential campus of the California State University system, welcoming students from California and the world to campus. As the first polytechnic in northern California, there is a significant investment to fuel the institution’s growth. Cal Poly Humboldt offers access to affordable, high-quality education responsive to the needs of a fast-changing world and is a Hispanic-serving institution. Serving students by providing a wide array of programs and activities that promote understanding of social, economic, and environmental issues and located in one of the West’s best college towns, Cal Poly Humboldt enrolls approximately 6,000 students and offers robust experiential learning opportunities in a spectacular learning environment on California’s northern coast.
Dr. Tom Jackson – President
Tom Jackson, Jr. was appointed Cal Poly Humboldt’s eighth president in May 2019. He previously served as president of Black Hills State University in South Dakota and has held other leadership roles within higher education, including vice president for student affairs at the University of Louisville and Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Jackson has also held administrative positions at McMurry University, the University of Texas at El Paso, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the University of Southern California, and St. Mary’s University.
A first-generation student, Jackson is a U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, Texas State Guard, and Indiana Guard Reserve veteran.
Academic Programs and Faculty
Total Enrollment: 5,739
Student-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Full-time Undergrad Tuition: $7,863
Graduate Programs: 13
Credential Programs: 14
Classes Smaller than 30: 72%
Average Entering GPA: 3.33 freshmen and 3.05 Transfers
Arts, Humanities & Social Science
Natural Resources & Sciences
The Student Body
Average Age: 24
African American: 3%
American Indian: 1%
Asian American: 3%
Pacific Islander: 0%
Local area: 17%
Northern California: 11%
San Francisco Bay Area: 12%
Central California: 7%
Los Angeles: 28%
San Diego: 7%
Other States: 8%
Other Countries: 1%
The following benefits, among others, are available to employees of Cal Poly Humboldt.
Life and disability plans
Employee assistance program
Travel assistance program
Flexible spending account
Fee waiver program
Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Email nominations for this position and questions about the status of the search to Kara Kravetz Cupoli at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email email@example.com.
The anticipated salary range for this position is $170,000 to $190,000 annually, commensurate with education and experience.
Visit the Cal Poly Humboldt website at https://www.humboldt.edu/.
The California State University (CSU or University) is committed to maintaining an inclusive and equitable community that values diversity and fosters mutual respect. We embrace our community differences in Age, Disability (physical and mental), Gender (or sex), Gender Identity (including nonbinary and transgender), Gender Expression, Genetic Information, Marital Status, Medical Condition, Nationality, Race or Ethnicity (including color, caste, or ancestry), Religion (or religious creed), Sexual Orientation, Veteran or Military Status. All Students and Employees have the right to participate fully in CSU programs, activities, and employment free from Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Exploitation, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking and Retaliation.