Nathan Kemp first started working at Knox in 2004 as a part-time Campus Safety officer. After transitioning to full-time in 2013 and assisting several different directors that have come and gone, Kemp assumed the role of Director of Campus Safety last month.
“It’s a lot of learning at this point in time,” Kemp said. “I mean I did a lot with (former) Director Mark Welker, but there’s still a lot more to learn and there’s a lot more public speaking which I’m not super fond of — but I will learn to adapt.”
In the past, Kemp has spent the majority of his tenure at Knox as a Campus Safety officer — responding to calls and answering student requests. As Director, he has learned how much communication is required between departments to maintain a positive relationship and fulfill their roles effectively.
“There’s a lot of brainstorming, lots of idea sharing. I really appreciate working with, for example Scott (Maust) in Facilities or Eleanor (Kahn) in Campus Life, Deb (Southern) in Student Development are really great for sharing ideas with me for things that my department might be able to do better or do more efficiently,” Kemp said. “And they are always willing to hear from me about things we might do better together.”
This aspect of coordination is still something Kemp is grappling with as director, but he is more familiar with Campus Safety work spent in the field.
“I like to do that, because I’m happy to help and that’s quick — I can go out and help somebody and see that it’s had a positive impact, in some way, whereas sometimes meetings are not as immediate of feedback,” Kemp said.
In order to fulfill his current responsibilities and develop the Campus Safety Department, Kemp said he is looking to absorb as much information as possible from those already experienced and from those in the Knox community.
“What I would like to do at some point is get together though with anybody that’s interested and I want to talk about campus safety but I want to hear what their thoughts are, their concerns, their suggestions are,” Kemp said. “What they are seeing and what they would like to see changed.”
In the future, Kemp wants to work on Campus Safety’s demographics, how representative it is of the student population and the staff population.
“The department is certainly majority white male Campus Safety officers. Mark Welker was very good about enhancing the diversity of the department, I would like to continue that. But in order to do that I’m gonna probably need to reach out and learn,” Kemp said. “For example, if there are places I should be looking or additional outside organizations that have candidates I can reach out to, or something like that.”
Kemp also wants to take a look at bicycle parking and — in the wake of a student who recently got hit by a car while crossing South Street — pedestrian safety. But Kemp also does not want to overpromise. There are no “hard and fast commitments yet”, no specific plans. Just ideas that Kemp is investigating by talking to Galesburg Police and other Knox departments.
“What I don’t know and I don’t want to say is what if six months down the road we’re going to have this, or that. I just don’t know the answer to that, I just want to start the conversation, see what can be done, and start taking steps to enhance pedestrian safety wherever we can,” Kemp said.
As Kemp continues to learn how best to serve the campus and coordinate with other departments, he said what he is grateful for the help he does receive from students, staff and faculty.
“It’s reassuring, it’s encouraging and I’m very grateful for all the help that we do get. Because on most days there’s two of us, and that can be pretty challenging without all the assistance from students and others,” Kemp said.