Yale promotes two campus leaders as part of new approach to public safety

Anthony Campbell and Ronnell Higgins
Anthony Campbell, left, and Ronnell Higgins (Photo by Dan Renzetti)

Yale has promoted two campus leaders to new roles as part of ongoing work to deepen student and community engagement in its public safety programs and broaden the range of health, wellness, and other experts involved in ensuring public safety on campus.

In a June 21 message to the Yale community, President Peter Salovey and Senior Vice President for Operations Jack Callahan Jr. announced that, effective July 1, Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins will assume a new role as Yale’s inaugural associate vice president for public safety and community engagement; Assistant Police Chief Anthony Campbell ’95 B.A., ’09 M.Div. will be Yale’s new chief of police.

The Yale Corporation, the university’s board of trustees, approved the promotions at its meeting earlier this month.

Chief Higgins and Assistant Chief Campbell have served our community with great distinction for a combined half-century, and their records of achievement make them singularly qualified to lead the oldest college police force in the country in a new era of public safety,” Salovey and Callahan wrote.

The leadership moves reflect a new vision for public safety at Yale. Outlined in 2020, it calls for enhanced coordination with student life and health resources, greater outreach to the Yale and New Haven communities, and a more focused role for the Yale Police Department.

The university’s new public safety strategy requires ongoing collaboration and the engagement of the entire Yale community in multiple ways — listening to every voice and ensuring the accessibility and reach of our resources,” Callahan said. “This new leadership structure is consistent with our commitment to ensuring our community members experience public safety and policing at Yale as done for them and with them, not to them.”

In his new position, Higgins will be an “orchestrator,” working in close partnership with campus colleagues responsible for student life and campus health, as well as with deans and other Yale leaders, to match the most appropriate campus resources with specific public safety situations. Higgins will further serve as a key liaison to the broader New Haven community by identifying points of intersection among campus safety, community safety, and community engagement.

The goal, Salovey and Callahan said, is to use mental health and student life resources, as well as appropriate city resources, to take Yale police officers out of situations that do not require them.

Higgins joined the Yale Police Department in 1997 as an officer. He was named the university’s chief of police in 2011 and director of public safety in 2015. During his tenure as police chief, Yale has experienced a sustained decline in crime.

Higgins, an adjunct professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven, holds a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense & Security and a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement administration from the University of New Haven. He is also a graduate of the FBI’s National Academy and holds a certificate in Law Enforcement Education from the University of Virginia. He completed the Crisis Leadership in Higher Education seminar at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The son of a police lieutenant, Higgins was honored in 2018 by the Connecticut Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), receiving its “100 Most Influential” award.

It is an honor to be named as Yale University’s Associate Vice President for Public Safety and Community Engagement,” Higgins said. “This represents a pivotal moment in my multi-decade career — 11 of those years as Yale’s chief of police. I am especially enthusiastic about orchestrating the next chapter in Yale’s rich history and furthering its institutional commitment to reimagined public safety while concurrently leading initiatives to advance our community engagement goals.

For the first time in our university’s history, the Yale Police Department and Department of Public Safety will have an administrator overseeing their efforts who came up through the ranks. I’m leaving our department in excellent hands with a top-notch leader, Anthony Campbell, who is exceptionally competent and thoughtful. As I look forward to expanding upon the dedicated and strategic work from our Committee on Policing, I’m eager to build on what we have already begun.”

Campbell will continue to report to Higgins. He said he plans to expand officers’ access to professional training and development, building a team of leaders who will go on to become police chiefs, commissioners, procedural justice educators and innovators, and directors of public safety across the country.

A Yale alumnus and former chief of police for the New Haven Police Department, Campbell joined Yale’s department as assistant chief in 2019.

Campbell earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale. He has trained in counter-terrorism and law enforcement management. He has also worked closely with government and private entities, including the crime reduction initiative Project Longevity, Yale Child Study Center, and Collaborative Response to the Opioid Crisis. He has taught a course at Yale Divinity School called “Police Others as You Would Want to be Policed: The Changing Face of Community-Police-Ministry Relations in the Twenty-First Century.”

The heart and soul of my approach to law enforcement management is servant leadership with an emphasis on community-based policing,” Campbell said. “I have seen first-hand how a department that cultivates genuine relationships with its community can curb violence, reduce crime and improve the overall quality of life for the people it serves. Developing these connections is a process that must be initiated by well-trained and deeply invested officers.

An agency is only as strong as its rank and file, and I view recruiting, developing and supporting officers and supervisors as a primary responsibility of the chief. These women and men are the public face of any department, and the extent to which their community is truly protected and served is the extent to which the officers and supervisors are themselves trained and recognized for a job well done.”

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Media Contact

Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-980-2222