USM’s search for a new director of public safety has come to a close with the hiring of Kevin Conger, currently chief of police in Monmouth.
In addition to close to three decades in various law enforcement agencies in Maine, Conger previously worked at USM for two years before working in Monmouth. Conger will begin his post at USM on Tuesday, Feb. 1.
According to Lt. Ron Saindon, interim director of public safety, Conger has been involved in law enforcement for around 30 years, serving with the Rockland police department and the Maine Marine Patrol for a number of years before joining the Maine State Police.
“He retired from the State Police after working his way from trooper to sergeant, and he retired from the State Police as a lieutenant, prior to coming to USM,” said Saindon. He said that Conger and he served together at USM for two years, both as lieutenants. Conger left USM last spring for Monmouth.
The Department of Public Safety, which recently changed its name from the USM Police Department, has been without a permanent chief since the previous director, Lisa Beecher, retired from her post in May 2010 after 12 years as director. Saindon took over as interim director when Beecher left. He said he did not apply for the permanent position.
Director of Residential Life Denise Nelson was the chair of the six-person committee that was charged with selecting the new public safety director. She said that there were originally around 70 applicants for the position.
In the first round of the process, the applicants were screened for the appropriate amount of law enforcement experience, education and other qualifications. Those who met the minimum qualifications moved on to a second round.Nelson said the candidates’ experience working on a college campus, working in a security or police function, and working with college or high school students was evaluated.
Nelson said a number of candidates were chosen for a phone interview, and from the phone interviews, the committee managed to narrow down a list of six candidates who were invited to USM for a full day interview.
With one candidate eventually dropping out of the race, five candidates came to USM, meeting various members of the community. “We invited students, staff, faculty, public safety staff—people who would have day to day contact with the successful candidate,” said Nelson.
The search committee reviewed the candidates and reported their findings to Chief Student Affairs Officer Craig Hutchinson, who was charged with making the final decision.
According to Huchinson, all of the candidates were found by the search committee to be qualified for the job, so it fell to him to make the decision based on who he felt was the most qualified. “Any one of the five could have conceivably done the job,” he said. “Conger was my choice as being the best fit, based on a number of things, including extensive law enforcement experience, and experience with us. So based on his overall experience with public safety and his knowledge of the institution, I felt he was the best fit.”
Although he had previously worked at USM, Nelson said that Conger was not considered an internal candidate because he did not work for USM at the time of his application for the job.
Saindon said that he looks forward to serving with Conger again, and that he expects him to be a good match for the position. “I’ve known Kevin personally and professionally for many years, and I believe he is the right pick for leading this department.”