By Megan Loock
The Washington College Office of Student Affairs introduced Pamela Hoffmann as the new Director of Public Safety on July 27.
Following Brandon McFadyen’s retirement as Director of Public Safety in May 2021, Washington College was looking for a new director who had previous experience with a small liberal arts college, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Dr. Sarah Feyerherm said.
“We were looking for someone… who was ready to move the department to the next step in terms of best practices and who could be a public figure on campus and connect with all constituents,” Dr. Feyerherm said.
For 29 years, Hoffmann worked in higher education law enforcement. She started her career during her undergraduate at Minnesota State University-Mankato, receiving a bachelors in speech communication and law enforcement.
She worked there for five years until she was hired as a public safety officer at St. Olaf College, a small liberal arts college located in her hometown of Northfield, Mass. where she worked for 24 years.
During her time at St. Olaf College, Hoffmann rose through the ranks from officer to shift supervisor, or ‘captain.’
As captain of Public Safety, Hoffmann’s primary responsibilities included helping operate Safe Ride and dispatch, as well as hiring and supervising students employed by the department. She also coordinated departmental training for the Public Safety officers, served on the sexual assault response team, and a variety of other critical administrative tasks central to the operations of the office, but these are just a few of Hoffmann’s credentials listed in Dr. Feyerherm’s July 27 campus email.
“[A]s I was taking my law enforcement classes in college, and looking at the various career options open to me, I was already working for my University Security department at that time. I really enjoyed that, so I opted to follow that career path, rather than some of the more traditional paths for folks in that major,” Hoffmann said.
“I found… that I work very well with [this] age of students,” she said. “It helps keep me young to a certain extent because it’s part of the job to interact with students.”
Hoffmann had many reasons for moving to the East Coast for work, including her love and appreciation for the Washington, D.C. area.
When she was in high school, Hoffmann took a school trip to Washington, D.C. with her 4-H group and instantly fell in love with the area.
“When I got home I told mom, ‘I don’t know what it is but I love the area and if I have the opportunity I want to live or work out there someday,’” Hoffmann said. “I made that statement between my junior and senior year of high school.”
But it was her “enthusiasm for the position, her ability to speak the language of small colleges, and her success at St. Olaf in work[ing] with students on several public safety initiatives” that brought her to the College, according to Dr. Feyerherm.
“It’s one of the best parts of the job getting to interact with the students on a daily basis, ” Hoffmann said.
“We could probably do better in getting our great Public Safety officers out in the campus community in ways they develop positive relationships with our students, [and] we need to do better in including them in our campus community, decision-making around safety, etc,” Dr. Feyerherm said.
While there is no set plan yet as to how this goal will be accomplished, Hoffmann said that students should expect to see more of Public Safety’s presence in interacting with students at times where there isn’t a crisis or a policy violation by facilitating more friendly conversation with students on campus.
“Pam and her staff are very focused on that, getting to know the students, and forming those relationships again after a year of remote learning,” Dr. Feyerherm said.
“It’s something that is not going to happen overnight, it’s something that needs to be built over time,” Hoffmann said. “We want our presence to not be just at those negative times.”
Hoffmann expressed that she has only been on the job for four weeks but she is “excited to be here… and [is] looking forward to the start of school.”
Photo by Izze Rios