A National Model for Campus Safety Leadership
Anthony Pluretti is a dynamic leader whose work with Widener’s Campus Safety Office has reached national acclaim. Named the Campus Safety Higher Education Director of the Year by Campus Safety magazine, the honor shines a light on his role as an innovator who has restructured the Campus Safety Office to enhance security and make operations more efficient.
Well-liked and widely known among students, faculty, and staff, Pluretti joined the Pride in 2020 before the pandemic started. His dedication to serving the Widener community and ensuring it is a safe and welcoming place for all are hallmarks of his leadership.
Congratulations on being named Campus Safety Higher Education Director of the Year. How did you feel when you learned about the honor?
Thank you. When I was nominated, I was overwhelmed with emotion. The nomination packet contained multiple letters of recommendation from campus partners. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day to day and I forgot about all the amazing things we’ve done. When I was named a finalist, I was truly surprised. I knew what we were accomplishing at Widener was very good; I didn’t realize it was going to elevate us to the status of finalist. When they announced I won, I was beyond shocked. I was immediately grateful to everyone who helped me get to that stage.
How do you and your team ensure that people are safe on campus?
We first acknowledge that safety is a perception. We want our community to feel safe whenever they are on campus. We take a customer-centric approach. The more visible and engaging we are with the community, the safer they will feel on campus. In the background, we utilize state-of-the-art technology, crime prevention through environmental design, and cutting-edge patrol techniques to significantly increase the likelihood that criminals will be caught on or around campus, which in turn keeps them away.
What is the best part of your job?
That’s easy. The Widener Pride. I’ve worked at a few institutions, and I can assure you there is something truly rare and special about being part of the Pride. The students, faculty and staff here are simply amazing. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I love my team the most. I love being a leader, an innovator, and a strategist. I want to break the mold and do things that are meaningful and impactful on our community. The campus safety team are some of the greatest people I have ever worked with, and I love being able to see and talk with them every day.
Describe the relationship between campus safety and the Widener community.
We are changing the industry on how agencies interact with their communities. All of our staff are going through a new training that teaches them how to provide unreasonable hospitality to everyone in the community. We are so much more than just safety. We are educators, mentors, counselors, and life coaches. We value developing meaningful relationships with every member of our community and leaving a lasting impact on their lives. In the past two years, we have seen the Widener community really open, and even look forward to, interactions with campus safety.
What kind of services do campus safety officers provide for students?
Our main focus is providing a safe and engaging campus atmosphere, but there is virtually no service we don’t offer. We are the only office open and on campus 24/365. If there is anything you ever need, just call Campus Safety and if we cannot provide it, we will get you to the person who can.
What led you to this kind of career?
I come from a family of service workers. Police, medicine, and education. I knew very early on that I wanted to be in law enforcement because I wanted to help people. When I graduated college all the police exams in NY were frozen due to budget issues. I decided to start as a campus safety officer at Hobart and William Smith Colleges until a test finally opened. A year and a half later when the first test did open, it was too late, I had already fallen in love with higher education. I learned that if I truly wanted to help people, then there was no greater time or place in a person’s life than when they are at college.
What are your future plans for the department? Any new developments or ideas?
There are so many that they are getting hard to keep track of. We will never stop innovating or finding new ways to serve this community. We are always creating new engagement ideas, technology enhancements, and pioneering the way we impact our community. A couple of specific things that we can tease now: we are developing a TikTok account to complement our Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts. We are also working on filling a couple of new positions that will significantly expand the services we provide to the community. Extremely exciting things to come!
What’s one thing you would like families to know about safety on campus?
We view each student’s safety as a partnership between us and their family. You know your student best and have provided their safety in life up to this point. It’s challenging to give that responsibility to someone else. Know that we truly care about our students and their safety on and off campus. In just a couple of short years we have become an industry leader in how law enforcement engages with the community it serves. We want to provide a safe and educational atmosphere for them to learn and grow into the person you’ve always known they would be.