Edgar Rodriguez, Oregon State University’s interim associate vice president for public safety and chief of police, has stepped down from his position after nearly three months in the role.
Rodriguez started his position on May 25, and has decided to leave his position at OSU effective Aug. 21.
“While at the university, Chief Rodriguez made significant progress with the development of our OSU police department and we are thankful for his efforts. We wish him the best as he pursues new opportunities,” said F. King Alexander, OSU president, in an all-student email.
Alexander has launched a nation-wide search to permanently fill the associate vice president for public safety and chief of police position. Paul Odenthal, senior associate vice president for administration, will oversee the operations of the Department of Public Safety until the position is permanently filled, or an interim appointment is made. Odenthal will also oversee the recruitment of sergeants and officers.
“I will be leading the transition and the department in the interim, and will be coordinating next steps with Chief Rodriguez over the next week, as well as working with other university administrative leaders, and leaders and staff within the Department of Public Safety,” Odenthal said via email.
OSU’s contract with Oregon State Police ends on Dec. 31. The university is making plans to build a Corvallis, Ore. campus law enforcement university-employed team that serves the university’s educational mission and community values.
In spring term, the OSU Board of Trustees decided public safety services on the Corvallis campus should have university-employed officers.
In an email addressed to the OSU community, Alexander said he had numerous meetings this summer, where university administrators and public safety leaders heard the input of OSU community members to gather feedback about their public safety needs, concerns and values.
The university’s Public Safety Advisory Committee, which is composed of students, faculty and staff, will continue meeting regularly to provide recommendations on how to improve the public safety programs at OSU.
“The safety and security of our campus requires us to be able to respond to criminal activity promptly with appropriately-trained and equipped police,” Alexander said in his email. “In order to protect our students, faculty, staff and visitors, we must be able to deter and intervene in criminal acts and properly investigate those acts. OSU’s public safety staff cannot adequately provide these services, nor can local law enforcement agencies.”
Alexander also added that the university recognizes the importance of appropriately funding wellness, mental health and other social services for our students, faculty and staff.
“An evaluation of campus mental health, wellness and other support programs is underway,” Alexander said in his email. “Once completed, we will move to expand these services and increase collaboration among public health, student support services, police and public safety programs to improve how we address campus underserved community needs.”
In his email, Alexander said he understands and respects that some members of the OSU community might hold different views about law enforcement.
“As we move forward, I ask that we continue to share our views on how OSU public safety programs can serve the university’s mission and values, and the safety of the OSU community,” Alexander said in his email. “The opportunity to build a wholly-new public safety program and police department will take all of us working together to get it right.”
Rodriguez did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.