MONMOUTH, ILLINOIS (August 18, 2023) — Veteran public safety expert Chris McLaughlin has joined Monmouth College's student affairs teams as director of campus safety and security.
McLaughlin came to Monmouth on August 1, after recently retiring from the Henry Hill Corrections Facility in Galesburg, Illinois, where he had over 25 years of progressive service. For many of those years, he served as the assistant warden and acting warden.
"Chris brings with him extensive experience in safety, security, management, and training," said Monmouth Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Karen Ogorzalek. "He is highly skilled in mentoring and training staff and building a community. His warm personality makes everyone feel comfortable."
Asked about lessons learned or words to live by from his experience at Henry Hill, McLaughlin responded with a motto that was part of everyday life there: "Firm, fair, and consistent." While he acknowledged that a residential liberal-arts campus is a very different environment, McLaughlin said that those guiding principles can also be applied at Monmouth.
"We used it at Henry Hill, not just in terms of discipline, but every day, not showing favoritism and treating people fairly," said McLaughlin. "It's the same thing here, only the students we work with have made good choices. Our goal over here is the same — for students to leave this place as a better person than when they came here."
McLaughlin's contribution to that goal is to maintain a "safe and secure environment" as Monmouth students pursue what he called "a very good education."
And McLaughlin has a strong understanding of that education. His son, Jacob McLaughlin, graduated cum laude in May with a degree in computer science. His wife, Deena McLaughlin, works in the College's business office as the payroll manager.
Among the first projects McLaughlin said he plans to address is "upgrading our scan system to make it more secure for students and faculty."
"I'll also be working on continuing education with my staff in the areas of CPR and first aid, as well as de-escalating stressful situations," he said. "In the few days I've been here, I've already met students from Florida, Texas, and South Dakota, and those types of students don't have a support system close by like they're used to. So I want my staff to be trained on the stressful situations those students sometimes face. They'll get crisis training and mental health training as part of that."
McLaughlin got his start in public safety in 1991, working as a dispatcher for the Monmouth Police Department. He liked the work, so he took classes in that field at Carl Sandburg College. By 1993, he'd joined the Warren County Sheriff's Office, and he worked there until 1997, when he left to join the staff at Henry Hill.