Located in the heart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a total enrollment of over 27,000 students, Drexel University is a world-class, comprehensive R1 institution and a global leader in experiential education. Serving as the cornerstone of experiential learning is a renowned cooperative education program, also known as co-op, enables students to gain up to 18 months of work experience and build an impressive résumé that will set them apart from their peers before they graduate. In addition, Drexel has committed to becoming the nation’s most civically engaged university, with community partnerships integrated into every aspect of service and academics. Drexel supports engagement along three dimensions: research and academic programs that directly benefit communities, public service by students, faculty and staff, and business practices that support equitable local and regional economic development. Drexel’s engagement is long-term and multigenerational, and is fundamental to the university’s mission, heritage, and future.

The Position


Reporting to the executive vice president, treasurer, and chief operating officer, the Vice President, Public Safety and chief of police (VPPS) serves as the chief law enforcement officer, security director, and emergency management officer for the university and is responsible for the organization, operation, supervision, and administration of the Department of Public Safety. The VPPS designs, develops, implements, and manages comprehensive services and programs which support and respond to the law enforcement, security, and safety needs of the university community; maintains a high level of engagement and satisfaction among the officers and staff, including enhancing officer wellness initiatives; continues efforts to recruit, train, and retain exceptional staff that is diverse, well-qualified, and genuinely interested in serving the campus community; and serves as external liaison with the local community, federal, state, and local law enforcement, and other applicable agencies within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and City of Philadelphia. The VPPS supervises approximately 95 full-time professional staff members in the following functional areas: Police Law Enforcement, Dispatch Communications, Security Technology, Fire and Emergency Services, Clery Compliance, Police and Communications Accreditation, Administration and Finance, and External Contracted Security, and oversees a budget of approximately $13 million.

The VPPS interfaces effectively with senior leadership and appropriate offices, to include Student Success/Life, University Human Resources, Office of General Counsel, Title IX, Technology, Facilities, Information Technology Services, Environmental Health & Safety, and other departments ensuring campus safety. The VPPS collaborates with students, faculty, staff, administrators, parents, and law enforcement agencies in the Philadelphia area and represents the university in meetings with neighborhood leaders and other constituencies fostering an inclusive and collaborative relationship. The VPPS is responsible for the implementation of the Public Safety strategic plan and the development and implementation of best practices.

The VPPS supervises 95 total full-time staff, with 40 sworn police officers and 120 Allied Universal Officers (PT & FT). Direct reports to the VPPS are:

Police Captain – Patrol
Police Captain – Administration
Police Captain – Investigations
Director, Operations & Security Technology
Director, Administration & Finance
Director, Fire Emergency Services
Director, Clery Compliance
Executive Assistant

Essential Functions:

  • Provide oversight for the Division’s Strategic Plan to deliver best in class safety and security services to the Students, Faculty and Staff
  • Event planning and crowd control management and demonstrated commitment to, and past experiences with, diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts both within a department and the broader community.
  • Must be aware of student activism efforts and have a vision to positively and successfully honor and work with students, faculty, and staff in exercising their right to free speech and expressions while balancing these with considerations for the safety of the entire campus.
  • Oversee the collection and maintenance of a comprehensive statistical data reporting system to ensure the department and university are in compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal laws, including Clery / DOJ/ UCR.
  • Provide leadership, direction, and organization to the department.
  • Develop policies directing the department operations and develop procedures for implementation of policies, with knowledge of CALEA standards.
  • Responsible for departmental fiscal planning and management.
  • Develop policies and procedures for special event security for all university special events, student life activities, and athletic events and ensure staff are trained appropriately to manage these events.
  • Establish and implement departmental standards of conduct to ensure the highest level of integrity among officers and staff.
  • Function as the incident commander, as appropriate, when the campus emergency response plan is activated and for major events on campus.
  • Implement the recommendations from the 21CP external review conducted in 2020: https://drexel.edu/oed/about/announcements/2021/June/toward-a-new-vision-of-public-safety/


A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, administration or related field and at least ten years of executive level law enforcement with the rank of captain or above are required. A master’s degree and completion of the Academy Executive Leadership Program, Northwestern University Institute of Police Staff and Command, or a similar program, are preferred. The ideal candidate will possess supervisory experience working with a unionized workforce; experience in the development, planning, and implementation of effective security initiatives that utilize electronic security systems; and a demonstrated commitment to, and past experiences with, diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts both within a department and the broader community. Experience with community policing is preferred. The successful candidate must possess Pennsylvania Police Officer Certification or successfully complete the Pennsylvania Municipal Police Officers Certification process.

Additional characteristics, skills, and abilities of the successful candidate include:

  • Serve as a trusted advisor and member of the President’s Cabinet leading Drexel University’s Public Safety.
  • Lead the Public Safety Department through transformation to 21st-century policing.
  • Represent Drexel University in the community as a leading voice to advance 21st-century-based policing and practices.
  • Effectively collaborate with other law enforcement agencies.
  • Possess a history of partnering with a diverse array of internal and external stakeholders.
  • An excellent history of implementation and delivery of training programs.
  • Demonstrate an ability to lead with integrity and a commitment to Drexel University’s mission, values, and strategic goals.
  • Professional certification designation of Certified Protection Professional by the American Society for Industrial Security or its equivalent; experience in the development, planning, and implementation of effective security initiatives that utilize electronic security systems
  • Experience with National Criminal Information System (NCIC) and FBI Crime Databases (UCR).

The selected candidate must satisfactorily pass a pre-employment drug test and background check including, but not limited to, education verification, work history reference checks, vehicle operator license verification, past driving history, and a criminal record check. Vehicle operator license checks and criminal background checks will be conducted annually. Candidate must sign a confidentiality statement relating to the confidentiality of sensitive university information, student records, faculty records, staff records, and all information deemed confidential by the Department of Public Safety and Drexel University.

In addition, the following characteristics and attributes were identified by stakeholders when considering the position:

  • The highest level of integrity and professionalism.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, including conflict management, community outreach, customer service, and public speaking.
  • Appreciation for and experience working with a diverse student population.
  • Ability to think broadly, understand complexity, and lead strategically, while attending to the tactical needs of the department.
  • Proven experience and credibility in a complex law enforcement agency.
  • Project a high degree of personal energy and enthusiasm for the role.
  • Possess a leadership/management style that is confident, approachable, and transparent.
  • Have significant familiarity with current technology utilized in all facets of a contemporary, full-service public safety organization.
  • Demonstrated record of transparency in the operation of a law enforcement agency.
  • Understanding of student life and the needs/issues of an urban campus community.
  • Ability to de-escalate conflict situations and a demeanor that is perceived as professional yet calm and relaxed.
  • In-depth understanding of applicable laws, risk management, police procedure, policy, and protocol necessary to inform an immediate and correct response to emergency situations.
  • Maintain a high degree of visibility and engagement throughout the communities in which one serves.
  • Ability to make difficult and timely decisions.
  • Present solutions to problems in a manner that fosters confidence in the public safety and security mission.
  • Team-oriented and demonstrated ability to show respect to others and to relate to people in a friendly, accepting manner.
  • Maintain high morale and a collaborative environment within the command structure of the department.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of current issues and best practices in law enforcement, crime prevention, and public safety within a higher education environment.
  • Ability to build working partnerships with all members of the internal campus community, as well as external parties, including neighbors, local residents, city officials, and federal, municipal, county, and state agencies.
  • Ability to balance the needs of an educational institution with those of law enforcement.


Eileen Behr served as Drexel University’s chief of police from 2014-2022. She previously served as Montgomery County (PA) Sheriff and retired from Drexel in June 2022.

On July 1, 2022, Drexel Police Captain of Investigations Robert Lis assumed the role of interim vice president and chief of police. Lis came to Drexel in 2005 as a police investigator and rose through the ranks to become police captain of investigations in 2018. Prior to his time with the university, Lis spent nearly 35 years with the Philadelphia Police Department, serving in various roles including patrol, plain clothes policing, juvenile aid, and special victims, and as a detective from 1991 to 2005.


The next VPPS must possess a broad and deep understanding of national best practices concerning comprehensive public safety operations, emergency management, modern technology, and organizational and staff development in an expansive campus environment. The chief should be an experienced leader capable of managing complex situations and staffing, committed to customer service at the highest level, possessing a deep understanding of current issues in community and 21st-century policing, and equipped to contribute at both a strategic and operational level in a higher education environment.

Drexel’s urban environment requires collaboration and partnership both within the university and externally for maximum effectiveness. Drexel is committed to building relationships as a foundation of the campus culture, and strong and transparent partnerships are an absolute necessity in all endeavors to ensure success. Public safety interacts with a significant number of individuals, departments, and organizations, so it will be critical for the VPPS to quickly reach out across campus and within the local community to build strong partnerships that foster ongoing positive relationships. These connections are essential in order to assess real needs, design community- and student-centered programs, and provide satisfactory customer service at all times. Public safety works closely with higher education and federal, state, county, and local law enforcement agencies in the university’s host communities, so the successful candidate should be prepared to continue to foster strong collaborative relationships and good mutual aid understandings with these partners.

Law enforcement practices are under a microscope across the nation. It will be critical for the new VPPS to work to ensure effective communications, transparency, and community caretaking and embrace reforms that support those goals. Public safety officers and staff should be visible, accessible, and engaged with the student body, consistently networking with the faculty and administration, proactively involving the campus in safety and security endeavors, and generally providing a positive representation of the department as an active member of the Drexel community. The VPPS should use national best practices, innovative new trends, and professional networks to inform the further development of a community caretaking public safety philosophy and ensure that the community caretaking philosophy is evident at all levels of the organization.

The Drexel community possesses a strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and community and human relations, so the VPPS will need to keep these concepts a top priority at all times. The VPPS must ensure inclusion of education and training around diversity, equity, bias, discrimination, and inclusion in all operational and strategic areas of the department.

The VPPS must bring a high level of cultural sophistication and a global mindset to the role. Students come to Drexel from around the world and may bring an apprehensiveness toward law enforcement. The VPPS and the entire department of public safety must be prepared to proactively address these issues and build the trust and confidence of all stakeholders. The VPPS must possess the ability to actively listen to and engage the diverse members of the Drexel community, and be transparent and collaborative in their solutions.

The hiring crisis within safety and law enforcement organizations across the country is a concern to the university. Hiring and retaining a well-trained, experienced team is essential for success of this role. The VPPS will be expected to bring innovative practices and ideas regarding the hiring, training, and retention of public safety team members, with a focus on maintaining a strong, high-functioning team through mentoring, team building, and creative advancement opportunities.


At an appropriate interval after joining Drexel, the items listed below will initially define success for the new VPPS. They will:

  • Maintain a proactive, visible, well-respected, and established leadership presence on campus, and this leadership presence will have been credible, collegial, collaborative, and positively received.
  • Forge effective partnerships with local law enforcement and other related community agencies.
  • Advance the community’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.
  • Analyze and define plans and goals that are best practices for the department and campus moving forward.
  • Build strong relationships, partnerships, and trust across a wide array of campus and external stakeholders.
  • Ensure that staff reporting to the VPPS feel supported, valued, and defined as a strong, highly functioning, well-regarded, and resilient team that collaborates and provides shared service.
  • Assess the impact of programs and services and utilize data-driven decisions to improve processes and operations.

Institution & Location


Drexel University’s Department of Public Safety takes a holistic, community-oriented approach to providing preventive and protective services to the Drexel University community. We strive to enhance the quality of life on our campuses (University City, Center City, and Queen Lane) by integrating the best practices of modern public and private security, law enforcement, and fire safety.
Police and security forces provide a highly visible presence around the clock in buildings and public spaces. The department offers safety and awareness training and resources to members of the Drexel community. Understanding the importance of community partnerships, the department has well-established relationships with many public and private institutions. Safety and security is a shared responsibility, and it is imperative that stakeholders work together to create and sustain a safe environment.



To enrich the quality of life of our community by providing a safe and secure environment based upon effective relationships and excellence in service.


To provide the highest professional standards for police, fire, and security services that perpetuate safety and peace of mind for all University stakeholders to study, work, live and recreate.


Helen Bowman – Executive Vice President, Treasurer, and Chief Operating Officer

As executive vice president, treasurer, and chief operating officer (COO) of Drexel University, Helen Bowman has played a vital role in providing strategic leadership and direction to all Drexel campuses since 2011. She leads the Division of Finance and Administrative Services, directing all financial and investment planning and accounting practices for the university, providing oversight of critical administrative functions including human resources, compliance and privacy, internal audit, information technology, business services, equality and diversity, facilities and real estate, and public safety, and collaborating with key stakeholders within and outside of the university.

Bowman came to Drexel with nearly two decades of corporate and higher education financial experience, providing high-level strategic and financial leadership and analysis in corporate banking, corporate finance, insurance, and business reengineering consulting before bringing her expertise to higher education. At Franklin & Marshall College, she was vice president for finance and treasurer, and her impressive fiscal management was largely responsible for the college’s rating upgrade to AA. She has also held executive-level positions at CIGNA Corporation and PricewaterhouseCoopers after beginning her career in corporate banking at KeyCorp.

Bowman holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and business and an MBA in finance, strategic planning, and accounting from the University of Pittsburgh.


Drexel University’s Department of Public Safety works hard to ensure a safe environment and improved quality of life on Drexel’s campuses through effective community policing and security practices. Public Safety maintains a full-time presence to secure the University City Campus with organized deployment of Drexel police officers and Allied Universal security personnel. On the Center City Campus, Drexel Public Safety works in coordination with the Philadelphia Police Department to respond to incidents. The Queen Lane Campus has a Drexel police officer assigned on campus for 40 hours per week, with availability depending on the campus’ schedule.




Drexel University fulfills its founder’s vision of preparing each new generation of students for productive professional and civic lives while also focusing the university’s collective expertise on solving society’s greatest problems. Drexel is an academically comprehensive and globally engaged urban research university, dedicated to advancing knowledge and society and to providing every student with a valuable, rigorous, experiential, technology-infused education, enriched by the nation’s premier cooperative education program.


To design the future through the innovative integration of education, scholarship, diverse partnerships, and our global community.

Shared Values

  • Integrity
  • Inclusion
  • Impact
  • Integration
  • Innovation

Strategic Plan

Since its founding, Drexel’s distinctive fusion of experiential learning, research, and scholarship has prepared students of all backgrounds to face the world’s challenges with creativity and a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. Built into the Drexel model, and advanced in the university’s last strategic plan, is the power of partnerships—from local solutions-based learning and civic engagement with communities and organizations in Philadelphia, to global research collaborations, to deep and productive relationships with a broad array of cross-sector employer-partners. In the coming decade, Drexel will build on this heritage of collaboration to respond both to profound shifts in higher education and to the broader challenges facing society, which include the fault lines around inequity, systemic racial injustice, and economic uncertainty exposed by a global public health crisis. To ensure that the education—and student experiences—that we provide are as responsive, impactful, and inclusive as possible, this plan articulates strategies for more effectively and intentionally uniting our academic and scholarly enterprise to meet the needs of the rapidly changing work environment that our students will encounter, whether for the first time or as lifelong learners.


Drexel University, with support from the Office of Equality and Diversity, Human Resources and the Office of the Provost, enforces fair and equal treatment of the entire University community through strict adherence to its policies and procedures.


John Fry – President

John Fry was appointed Drexel University’s 14th president in 2010 and set out to transform Drexel into a private research university with a strong public purpose — an institution that harnesses its strengths to serve its students, neighborhood, city, and nation. Prior to Drexel, Fry was president of Franklin & Marshall College, executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania, and a management consultant for the higher education and nonprofit sectors.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Fry graduated from Lafayette College and earned a master’s degree in business administration from the New York University Stern School of Business. He and his wife Cara, an art historian, have three children: Mia, a recent graduate of Penn Law; Nat, an entrepreneur; and Phoebe, an undergraduate at Drexel.

Benefits Overview


Drexel University is pleased to offer comprehensive and competitive benefits to eligible employees and their eligible dependents. Benefits-eligible employees of Drexel University, Drexel University Online (DUO), and the Academy of Natural Sciences can enroll themselves and their dependents either upon hire, during the open enrollment period, or if they experience a qualifying life event. Drexel strives to provide employees with happy and healthy lifestyles to foster a solid work-life balance. All employee benefits are explained here.

Application & Nomination


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. Nominations for this position and details about the status of this search may be emailed to Mark Hall at mah@spelmanjohnson.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email info@spelmanjohnson.com.

 Visit the Drexel University website at www.drexel.edu 

 Drexel University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer that welcomes individuals from diverse and neurodiverse backgrounds and perspectives, and believes that an inclusive and respectful environment enriches the University community and the educational and employment experience of its members. The University prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, status as a veteran or special disabled veteran, gender identity or expression, genetic information, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions and any other prohibited characteristic. Please visit our Policies page to view all University policies related to Human Resources and News and Announcements for workplace postings.