By Anna Landsverk
After former Public Safety Director James “Jim” Schumann left suddenly in October, the search is on to replace him. However, the position will likely stay open for months.
In a brief email on Oct. 17, Vice President of Finance and Administration Jean Hollaar announced she would be replacing Schumann as the interim Public Safety Director. Hollaar, whose experience is in office administration and budget planning, will be interim director through fall semester and into January, since the application window has only just opened.
“We think we have an application window of 30 days or so, so (until) early December,” Hollaar said. “At that time then, the search committee will begin screening applications.”
After that, the finalists will be invited to campus in the early weeks of spring semester. The candidates will likely be chosen before then, but with fall break, it would be impractical to invite them to campus.
“I think we’re going to end up straddling that semester break and end up with finalists invited to campus in early spring semester, the first week of the semester,” Hollaar said.
Although Schumann had announced his intent to resign as director on January 6, 2018, there was no reason given as to why he left well before the scheduled date. Campus Security Officer Kirstin Stanger said the reason behind Schumann’s absence could not be discussed.
“Personal records, whether a person’s with the university or not—they (Human Resources) are not going to discuss that openly, due to litigation or liability reasons,” Stanger said.
Hollaar also hesitated to discuss the reason for Schumann’s abrupt departure.
“I think once he (Schumann) made the decision to leave … honestly I can’t share what his personal reasons were,” Hollaar said. “I mean Minnesota data governance practices act really keeps—classifies his reasons for departure as private and something I can’t really discuss. I just think he made the decision to leave, and unfortunately it just ended up being sooner than later.”
Part of the reason for Schumann’s formal resignation was cited as the strain on his time.
“Jim came to MSUM as Public Safety Director in March 2016. After 27 years in safety and security at different campuses, being on call 24 hours a day seven days a week and commuting from the Twin Cities area, Jim is ready for the next chapter in his life,” the announcement posted to MSUM’s news website stated.
Whatever the reason behind Schumann’s early leave, Hollaar and the Public Safety officers must now work to keep up. Since Hollaar is already in charge of large portions of campus affairs, she has asked the regular staff to pick up some of the slack. Hollaar laid out her expectations for the officers in a meeting after the leadership change was announced.
“(I) basically said, I assume you’ll continue doing your jobs as you always have, and that if you need to inform the director of anything, that’s me,” Hollaar said. “Just call my cellphone, call my (office) phone, send me an email, whatever it might be—especially if there are flashing lights on campus where people might wonder what’s going on.”
Even with that support, however, Hollaar admitted it would be impossible to do everything as usual.
“Some things are going to fall out the bottom just because there isn’t enough time in the day,” Hollaar said. “But I think making sure that we focus on our most important things and really taking care of the day-to-day things, as well as moving forward in some really important areas like emergency planning … we are going to keep moving forward in any way we can.”
Stanger said that although it’s inconvenient, most of the officers are no strangers to having an interim director.
“Having an interim director or lack of director is not something that’s new to us,” Stanger said. “Most of the staff here has been here since when Greg Lemke left (in 2014), which has technically been a couple directors ago. And within that time we’ve had interim directors, directors that didn’t last very long, and then interim directors and so forth.”
In fact, the last three years has seen Public Safety Directors leave within a year or even months of taking the job, and the vacancies remained open for months. Hollaar hopes it will be different this time.
“I know MSU Moorhead has struggled to find the exact right fit for what we’re looking for, but I think this is our—we’ll do it right this time,” Hollaar said, adding with a laugh, “a girl can hope!”
Stanger said the constant changes aren’t ideal for the department, but she was unsure that things would change. She seemed almost wistful at the thought of finally having a steady presence in the department.
“I guess we’ll have to wait and see,” Stanger said. “If we get some really good applicants that are in the pool, yes I do feel optimistic. That would be nice, actually.”
When there is a revolving door of directors, there are constant changes in how the office is run and the attitude officers are expected to take on Public Safety.
“We have seen different directors—all of us (officers) have seen different directors, and it is a challenge if they don’t stay very long,” Stanger said. “Each director that comes in has their own personality, their own style, their own expectations. And when you have someone that comes in with their own expectations, they’ll make their own changes to fit what they think the department should be. And when you have them leave after a short time and you bring somebody else in, that person’s going to come in with their expectations, and they may not be the same as the other person’s. So then you scrub everything you just had and start all over again.”