SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – University of Utah’s Chief Safety Officer has announced he has accepted a new position after just over a year in his position.

Chief Safety Officer Marlon Lynch will leave the U of U at the end of March to accept a similar position at his alma mater Michigan State University.

Keith Squires, former Utah Commissioner of Public Safety and currently Lynch’s executive officer, will serve as interim CSO.

“It is with mixed emotions I leave Utah,” Lynch says. “This new opportunity was unexpected, and my decision was not an easy one to make. 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.

“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 was named as the U’s chief safety officer in December of 2019 and formerly served in top law enforcement and safety positions at New York University, Vanderbilt University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro.

According to a Tuesday release, Lynch will be the inaugural vice president for public safety and chief of police at MSU, reporting to the president and serving as an active member of the president’s leadership team. The position is responsible for the overall planning, development, and implementation of a comprehensive and dynamic public safety and law enforcement program at Michigan State University.

“We’re disappointed to be losing Marlon but wish him the very best in this new role,” says Cathy Anderson, the university’s chief financial officer. “Marlon is a nationally recognized campus safety expert, so it comes as no surprise that he is highly sought after. During the year he has been with us he has transformed our university’s public safety functions that traditionally reported through the chief of police.

“The new divisions and oversight committees he created have helped foster improved collaboration across campus and have resulted in dramatic improvements in the way services are provided to our campus community,” Anderson said. “These are lasting changes that establish a solid foundation for future innovation and growth.”

Lynch played an important role as an advisor on campus safety for the Utah Board of Higher Education and as chief safety officer for the Utah System of Higher Education.

In that role, he helped facilitate a system-wide campus safety study to help identify and establish best practices at all state colleges and universities.

The search to replace Lynch will begin later this year after a new university president is found. In mid-January, President Ruth Watkins announced her departure after eight years.

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

Read his full statement below:

Dear Colleagues:

It is with mixed emotions that I share with you that I will be leaving the University of Utah to accept a position as the inaugural vice president for public safety and chief of police at Michigan State University.

This new opportunity was unexpected, and my decision was not an easy one to make. 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. I will step down at the end of March 2021.

In the interim, Keith Squires has agreed to serve as the chief safety officer. Keith is a great leader and fully invested in our mission, which will ensure a steady course in the months ahead. The search for a new chief safety officer will begin after a new president is named, likely in the fall. I will continue working with the U in a consulting capacity during this transition.

In the year we have had together, we have 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.

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. You are an incredible team. I know that because of your commitment this vital work will continue with no pause in advancing the university’s safety goals.

I am grateful for the support I received from each one of you, from students, staff, and faculty at the U, and from the administration. Safety has been, and will always be, a top priority at the U, which highlights the importance of the work each one of you is doing.

Please reach out directly to me if you have additional questions. I want to close by again saying how much I have enjoyed working with you and to thank you for your hard work.

Marlon C. Lynch
Chief Safety Officer
University of Utah