Originally published Oct. 2, 2013

Renee Freeman said adjusting to her new position as Grand Valley State University’s director of public safety shouldn’t be difficult, but it will certainly be different.

Freeman, who was sworn in Monday by GVSU President Thomas Haas, served with the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety for 27 years, during which time she rose from an officer to a lieutenant.

Freeman said she decided to take the position at GVSU to enhance her career and felt that the transition would be natural from her previous administrative role.

“And I hoped to return back to Grand Valley,” she said.

As both a GVSU alumna and former adjunct professor with the school’s police academy, Freeman is accustomed to the university scene.

“I really enjoy the interactions,” she said. “The youth (at GVSU) have a lot of energy, which is really exciting for me.”

Freeman’s familiarity with the campus may certainly lend a hand as she seeks out safety concerns, but the GVSU perspective is not the only one through which she approaches her new position. As she embraces her role as an administrator, she makes sure not to forget where she came from.

“I still recognize the fact that I am a fully sworn-in and cross-trained officer,” Freeman said. “It’s where my heart and soul is.”

Apart from her previous experience as an officer, administrator and professor, Freeman also maintains certification as a medical first responder and fire officer.

“I’ve really enjoyed every aspect of my career in this field,” she said. “I just love serving people no matter the capacity.”

Freeman said the range of skills she acquired throughout her career will translate well into her leadership role.

“I think it just makes me mindful of the expectations that are put on our officers,” she said. “If I always have a good understanding of where I came from and what is required to do this job (of an officer), I can be a good administrator.”

In spite of the many field skills Freeman has to offer, she likely will not exercise them with her new position.

“Primarily my responsibility lies here in an administrative function,” she said.

However, she anticipates frequent interaction with those in the field.

“I’m certainly not opposed to spending some time with them and learning more about how they interact with the campus community,” she said.

Despite her experience on campus, Freeman said it’s too early to identify specific safety problems that she aims to address. She continues to keep her eyes open for issues, though.

“I need to get grounded and get a good feel for what’s happening here,” she said.

But she’s ready to tackle whatever problems she may find.

“I have enjoyed every opportunity that has been afforded to me,” she said. “I embrace it. I am a passionate person. I jump in 110 percent.”


Original publication: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2013/10/haas-swears-in-new-campus-director-of-public-safety