After more than a semester of operating without a director of Public Safety, Castleton College has hired Keith Molinari to fulfill the role. With a background in both law enforcement and Public Safety on a college campus, Molinari said he is eager to become a part of the Castleton community.
"I’m already in a place where I enjoy going to work. Every morning I look forward to walking out the door," he said.
Prior to accepting this position and uprooting to the Green Mountains, Molinari said he spent 15 years as a police officer for Sullivan County in New York State, until a car accident forced him into an early pension.
Shortly after, however, SUNY Sullivan contacted him and offered the former sergeant an assistant director of Public Safety position. As a result, Molinari said he spent the next eight years working as a liaison between campus officials and local police. Though happy in that role, moving up in the ranks was the next step.
"I wanted to be a director," he said. "I wanted to put my stamp on a department."
In order to make his mark, Molinari has a clear list of goals already laid out. First, he hopes to use his previous experiences to strengthen the communication between local law enforcement officers and campus officials.
With a rich background in emergency management, Molinari said he also plans to bring his experiences in this area to Castleton in order to maintain the safety of both students and faculty.
"It was already strong coming in," he said. "I think we can test it more. We have the potential to test it."
His third goal is to establish stronger interdepartmental connections. Specifically, in the Residence Life Department, Molinari said he wants both he and his officers to be involved in the Community Advisor training process. Additionally, he said he wants to be in communication with the Wellness Center as they handle cases of abuse and addiction.
Community Advisor of Adams Hall and Student Coordinator of Safe Ride, Kevin Santora said all of his interactions with Molinari thus far have been positive. Santora expressed gratitude for Molinari’s support and interest in being involved with Safe Ride and said he is looking forward to working with Public Safety this summer as a dispatcher.
"So far without a doubt he’s already had a difference with how people deal with Public Safety," Santora said. "And what I think is a great difference."
Santora has also had the opportunity to work more closely with the new director as Molinari has been living in the apartment on the first floor of Adams Hall until he can move into his new house with his wife Michelle and 5-year-old daughter, Ava, in mid June.
Molinari said that living on campus has been a huge asset as he works to assimilate to the Castleton culture.
"I can focus full time, be on site, see how student life goes in the residence halls. I eat in Huden," he said. "It’s a great perspective and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Despite this perspective on-campus living has brought him, Molinari said he is also looking forward to finally settling down in their new home, which is just three miles from campus.
"The best part is my wife likes it. I get to pick the job, she gets to pick the house," he said with a laugh.
Molinari’s three other children, Heather, Samantha, and Chase who range in ages from 15 to 26 will remain in the New York State area pursing their careers and attending school.
Castleton students are interested to see the outcomes of this campus change. Freshman Trevor Sayers said he hopes the director change will lead to changes in the parking ticket process. He said the current policy of officers being able to write multiple tickets for one car is unfair and allows tickets to accumulate without students even being aware they violated a policy.
"I believe it’s wrong to ticket someone and not notify them," he said.
Senior Nick Tubolino, a Public Safety dispatcher, said he has enjoyed working with Molinari over the past few weeks and expects him to be a positive influence on the campus.
"He seems motivated," he said. "For the most part everyone seems very comfortable with him there. He carries himself very well."
This respect is mutual as Molinari expressed his eagerness to work with the faculty and staff throughout Castleton’s campus, but especially within his own department.
"I inherited an extremely loyal staff," he said. "Their heart is with Castleton."