Barnard has begun a national search for a new executive director of Public Safety as a “first step” in changing how Public Safety operates following an external investigation into the office and its practices, President Sian Beilock announced in an email to students and faculty on Thursday.
Barnard called for an external investigation into Public Safety’s procedures and policies following an incident in April during which six Public Safety officers pinned Alexander McNab, CC ’19, against a counter after he failed to show his Columbia ID upon entering Barnard’s campus. Videos of the confrontation gained national attention and spurred protests over Public Safety’s relationship with students of color.
In her email, Beilock stated that “changing the leadership of public safety” is part of how the College is “acting promptly” to change how Public Safety operates. Amy Zavadil, who served as associate dean for equity at Barnard from 2011-2017, will serve as interim executive director of Public Safety.
The College declined to comment as to whether it removed Antonio Gonzalez from his post as executive director in the wake of the report, citing that it does not comment on personnel matters. Gonzalez had served in the Public Safety office at Barnard since 2006.
Zavadil received a Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision from Montclair State University and returns to Barnard after serving as the University of Dayton’s Title IX/Section 504 coordinator and equity compliance officer. Prior to her role as Barnard’s associate dean for equity, Zavadil held a two-year stint as the Title IX and Community cnduct director.
Following her appointment, Zavadil will be responsible for overseeing a number of recommendations from the T&M Protection Resources investigation into the Public Safety office, including updated policies for training and guidelines for all officers, compliance procedures, de-escalation training and protocols, and communication to the community and student body.
“As Interim Executive Director, Ms. Zavadil will help us make necessary improvements to the Public Safety Department, address important issues related to culture and inclusion, and implement the recommendations of the report,” Beilock wrote.