University Police and Public Safety hires diversity, equity, inclusion director

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State University Police and Public Safety (UPPS) has appointed Iris Richardson as the department’s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion, following a national search that began in 2019.

Iris Richardson

Iris Richardson has been named Penn State University Police and Public Safety's first director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Credit: Provided

In this newly added position, Richardson will be committed to developing overall diversity, equity and inclusion programming for UPPS while also serving the Penn State community. Her office is located at the department’s headquarters at University Park and she will serve the department’s employees and Penn State community at 22 campuses across the commonwealth. 

“We are excited to have Iris join the University Police and Public Safety leadership team,” said Charlie Noffsinger, assistant vice president of UPPS. “Creating this position was a proactive decision because we remain committed to fostering a positive relationship with the community while also further developing internal programming and training.”

Richardson’s responsibilities will include:

  • Providing overall direction and guidance, planning, policy input, strategic communication, and technical and internal support for University Police and Public Safety around diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.  
  • Representing UPPS on external committees in the community such as Community & Campus in Unity.  
  • Acting as the liaison between UPPS and concerned public or committees.
  • Identifying training needs around diversity, equity and inclusion for police officers, staff members and UPPS leadership across the commonwealth.
  • Developing and implementing communications, programming and training strategies to support the University’s overarching commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Engaging with employees to positively impact the campuses and communities they serve across the commonwealth. 

“I am looking forward to building great relationships within UPPS and external partners. I am also excited about the opportunities to contribute to our mission and develop new initiatives within the department that help to foster a welcoming environment on our campuses and beyond,” Richardson said. 

Richardson previously served as associate director for Student Affairs at the Penn State Mont Alto campus, where she directed, supervised and administered the student personnel and residence life functions for the residence hall community. She also implemented a comprehensive residence life program, including strategic planning.  

Richardson earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology at Penn State Berks and a master’s degree in counseling in higher education/student affairs from West Chester University. She grew up in Philadelphia and enjoys spending time with friends and family and traveling in her spare time. 

Richardson joined the department in March through funds budgeted in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UPPS planned to announce Richardson’s role in the fall when students and employees returned to campus. “However, given the current national climate and the need to assess operations and the policing role in our communities of color, we thought it was essential that the Penn State community know the proactive steps UPPS has taken, and continues to take, to support diversity and inclusion,” Noffsinger said. “The safety and well-being of every member of our Penn State community is our priority.”