To: OSU faculty, staff and students
From: Michael J. Green, Vice President for Finance and Administration
July 16, 2020
Dear OSU faculty, staff, and students,
Oregon State University believes that the safety of all students, faculty, staff and visitors is a top priority.
We recognize this is a unique and important time in the history of America. Much has changed as our nation and community grapples with the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. At OSU, we are fully considering the implications of these events on our approach to public safety.
The university provides public safety services in many ways at OSU facilities throughout Oregon, including efforts to advance building safety, educational programs, campus patrols in Corvallis and Bend, support services to employees and students, emergency crime response and law enforcement services on the Corvallis campus, and collaboration with local agencies for fire and medical first response. OSU has a history of providing public safety services on its Corvallis campus since the mid-1930s and law enforcement services since 1974, including the Oregon State Police (OSP) providing licensed law enforcement services since 1989.
The provision of public safety on OSU’s Corvallis campus is transitioning while we engage our community in dialogue and manage the change from OSP providing law enforcement services on the Corvallis campus. As we take these steps, we assure that public safety services will reflect the university’s values and vision while supporting OSU’s teaching, learning and research.
With this in mind, we have reviewed our community dialogue and engagement plans to embrace further community input and feedback into the design of public safety programs and law enforcement services.
University leaders and the OSU Board of Trustees have determined that to serve OSU’s values and mission, address community needs and support public safety as a priority, it is important to bring law enforcement for the Corvallis campus in-house and provide university management of those services consistent with OSU’s values and principles and educational mission.
Given the requirements to implement its police services—and to ensure thorough and thoughtful community engagement—OSU extended its agreement with OSP for Corvallis campus law enforcement through the end of this year. To provide its own law enforcement services on Jan. 1, 2021, OSU will resume a comprehensive recruitment, hiring and training process for sworn officers that will include bias, diversity and de-escalation training.
We recognize the unique challenges of campus policing and are mindful of the national debate on best practices and standards for public safety within higher education. While the public often compares campus police with state or local law enforcement, there are distinct differences at OSU where campus partnerships are the foundation of public safety programs and law enforcement. We are committed to building trust through the sharing of information, transparency and open lines of communication and engagement with the campus community.
As OSU began to develop the structure of this new department, we did so intentionally with Corvallis campus community listening sessions in March and April. Data obtained from these listening sessions provided the OSU Public Safety Advisory Committee – a collection of faculty, students and staff—with an understanding of community sentiment regarding campus public safety. We also acknowledge the concerns shared recently by community members of color regarding policing. Community engagement has been and will remain a core part of the process to evaluate and recommend future public safety needs. Edgar Rodriguez, OSU’s new associate vice president for public safety and chief of police, already is meeting with many faculty, staff and students. Over the next month or more, he will hold meetings with more than two dozen OSU student, faculty, staff and community groups on the Corvallis campus to share his transition plan and receive valued community feedback to inform public safety programs and the future of OSU’s Department of Public Safety. This public safety outreach will include meetings with stakeholders at OSU-Cascades, the OSU Portland Center and the Hatfield Marine Science Center.
We welcome this opportunity for engagement with Chief Rodriguez as it will help inform, guide and transform his department to advance inclusive excellence and contribute to the safety and success of all members of the Corvallis campus community.
We will continue to provide updates in the months ahead and encourage you to participate in upcoming public safety meetings and regularly visit an updated Department of Public Safety website to be launched on Monday, July 20. Thank you for your interest and engagement in this very important process for the university.
Michael J. Green
Vice President for Finance and Administration
Chief Financial Officer