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New University of Utah Chief Safety Officer Introduced

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – During a first-of-its-kind campus safety meeting held at the University of Utah, attendees heard from the school’s newly hired chief safety officer.

Marlon Lynch was introduced at the beginning of a student safety forum hosted by the Board of Regents of the Utah System of Higher Education. The event was attended by representatives of public colleges and universities from around the state.

Lynch beat out more than 80 applicants for the new position that’s a separate role from police chief, whom he will supervise.

“My role, specifically, is to be more strategic and to be the overarching component,” Lynch said. “The police chief will have a very specific operational role in the day-to-day operations of the police department.”

Lynch will officially start his position on Feb. 1. He’s leaving his post at New York University, where he headed up campus safety.

“Definitely a lot work to be done,” Lynch said about his new job, adding that he’ll first take time to listen to input from students.

Following the shooting death of student Lauren McCluskey, a task force on campus safety recommended the hiring of a chief safety officer to oversee and coordinate safety programs.

“This is a continuous improvement effort,” said University of Utah President Ruth Watkins as she introduced Lynch. “I don’t think we will ever be done.”

McCluskey, 21, was shot and killed while walking home from class on Oct. 22, 2018, by an ex-boyfriend who was hiding the fact that he was on parole and a registered sex offender. Her death came after weeks of harassment that she reported to campus police.

“Because of the events of the last couple of years here, they have been particularly focused on, ‘What can we do better?’” said Harris Simmons, chairman of the Utah Board of Regents.

Simmons said safety is challenging at the University of Utah because it’s a commuter campus with thousands of people coming and going every day.

“You can’t build a wall around them,” Simmons said. “But there are things that we can continue to improve on to make sure that while students are here they are being watchful, that they have each other’s backs.”

Improvements at the University of Utah include courtesy escorts and a free campus ride service.

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“Safety is the very top priority that we have,” Simmons said.

While overseeing NYU’s public safety, Lynch helped create public safety standards for 11 campuses around the world.

“The experience of being in higher education for over 24 years in urban settings and operating in a decentralized environment that has health systems as well as a university in urban areas will be an asset,” Lynch said.

Before his time at NYU, Lynch served as the police chief of three universities. He has a master’s degree in criminal justice and is also a graduate from the FBI National Academy, according to a press release from the University of Utah.