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University of Utah chief safety officer to leave position in March

University of Utah chief safety officer to leave position in March

(Photo courtesy of Marlon Lynch)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Marlon Lynch, the University of Utah's chief safety officer, is leaving the position next month, the U. announced Tuesday.

Lynch will leave campus at the end of March and has selected a similar position at Michigan State University, which is his alma mater, according to a U. news release.

"It is with mixed emotions I leave Utah," Lynch said in the release. "This new opportunity was unexpected, and my decision was not an easy one to make."

Lynch, who came to Utah from New York University, has served in the chief safety officer position since February 2020 and is the first person to serve in that new position. Keith Squires, who is a former Utah Commissioner of Public Safety and currently serves as Lynch's executive officer, will take over as interim chief safety officer after Lynch's departure.

News of Lynch's exit comes less than a month after U. President Ruth Watkins also announced she is leaving the institution. Watkins will step down in April to work for Strada Education Network.

Lynch said the opportunity at Michigan State was unexpected, and it was a difficult decision to decide to leave Utah. But he said moving to Michigan will allow him to be closer to his family.

"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," he said.

Lynch said he was proud of his accomplishments at the University of Utah.

"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 in the news release.

During his time at the U., Lynch oversaw the restructuring of on-campus security, safety and police services. Before, those departments all reported to the university chief of police, but now they are all kept separate and report directly to the chief safety officer, according to the release.

He also was involved in the creation of a new community services division, which includes on-campus social workers who are developing a joint response protocol and independent services for victims and mental health crises, the release says. Lynch also oversaw the design of a new public safety building, which includes an improved workspace for providing victim support and is expected to open by the end of this year.

"I am particularly appreciative of the talent, dedication, and passion each of you brought to building something new and extraordinary at the U. — a safety department that I have no doubt will be a model in structure and oversight for other campuses," Lynch wrote in a memo to U. safety employees in which he announced his departure. "I know that because of your commitment this vital work will continue with no pause in advancing the university's safety goals."

Watkins also spoke highly of Lynch's accomplishments.

"Marlon set the bar high as our inaugural chief safety officer, transforming the way we manage safety on our campus," Watkins said. "He achieved meaningful change and has put us on the right track to be a national model of campus safety."

Lynch's tenure went through a moment of controversy in December when the U.'s police chief, Rodney Chatman, was placed on leave from the department amid an investigation by the Utah Attorney General's Office.

The reason for the investigation has not been made clear, but Lynch clarified in a statement that Chatman had full authority to operate the police department despite not being certified by the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Board. Chatman is still on leave.

Lynch will be the inaugural vice president for public safety and chief of police at Michigan State and will be in charge of the planning, development and implementation of the university's public safety and law enforcement program, according to the news release.

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