Although we no longer receive the classic, “If you see something, say something,” emails from former Director of Safety & Security John Gildard, there is a new “John” in town.

As of Oct. 17., Marist’s new Director of Safety & Security, John Blaisdell, is taking each day as it comes and working to become acclimated to the school and the people.

“Right now, I’m trying to learn who’s who, make some introductions and make myself accessible to people,” Blaisdell explains. “I’m really just trying to understand the culture; how does campus security fit into the larger community environment here?”

In terms of Marist’s community and culture, Blaisdell is looking to learn more about his department and how it interacts on a daily basis with other departments, with faculty and staff, and most importantly, with the students.

In his two weeks, he has made it his mission to learn how he can support students through his new role, and how he can do his best to become enmeshed in the greater Marist community, outside of his office in Donnelly.


Blaisdell occupies his new office in Donnelly

Blaisdell, however, is no stranger to college-based security. Prior to his arrival to Marist, he served for nearly 40 years in various police/security departments throughout the country. Growing up in Arizona, he attended Arizona State University (ASU), receiving his Bachelor’s degree in public programs. During his time at ASU, Blaisdell made his way into the world of security through the Tempe, Arizona Police Department at the age of 19. He worked initially as a police officer, but eventually delved into investigative crimes, focusing primarily on organized crime and narcotics.

After working 21 years in Tempe’s police department, Blaisdell announced his retirement. He moved with his wife and two boys to central Massachusetts, redirecting his security efforts to his own home as a stay-at-home-dad while attempting to decide his next career move.

“Then, 9/11 hit,” Blaisdell says. “That was really a turning point for me–I needed to get a job. The world was changing in front of everybody’s eyes.”

At this point, Blaisdell took on a role at Harvard University as the Assistant Director for Safety & Security for all of the University’s fine arts museums. After a year, he was promoted to Director. He continued working in the museums for five years, until he realized the impact his commute had on his family.

“I was commuting 100 miles per day and it wasn’t working for my family to live in central Massachusetts at that point. [My wife and I] had two boys, then my daughter came into the world and my wife wanted to take some time off,” Blaisdell says. “I looked around and ended up at Rhodes College in Memphis.”

The position Blaisdell accepted in 2005 at the Memphis, Tennessee college placed him at the forefront of campus-wide security. Here, he assumed the title that he would later possess at Marist – Director of Safety & Security. However, before jumping into his role at Marist, he moved up the ranks at Rhodes to become its Associate Dean of Students, where he remained until his recent decision to relocate to Poughkeepsie.

“I was looking for a school with good reputation in the Northeast; From a professional standpoint something that would be challenging and a place I would be proud to work,” Blaisdell explains. “From a personal perspective, my wife and I were looking to relocate to the northeast so it was kind of a perfect fit for myself and my family.”

Fast forward to Marist’s 2016 Homecoming Weekend, and Blaisdell has completed his first week as the school’s Director of Safety & Security. Despite jumping into his new job during one of security’s busiest weekends, Blaisdell has nothing but good things to say about the campus, his colleagues and the students.

After seven days on campus and meetings with the members of the Security Department, Blaisdell says, “They are some of the smartest, most articulate, genuine people I have met in this profession.”

Blaisdell comments further that he has not seen any behavior uncharacteristic of college students. He sees many parallels between the students at Marist and those at Rhodes, “which is what I was looking for in terms of quality of students and professionalism,” Blaisdell says. “On the surface, the students seem fantastic here. They seem polite and appropriate.”

As for right now, Blaisdell is assessing the needs of the Security Department, which include staffing and student needs, and is supporting what he explains as, “what has already been built here.” In doing so, he is focusing on what the Marist community as a whole wants from his department.

Marist students, faculty and staff welcome Blaisdell to their home and look forward to any catchy slogans he may sign his ‘snow day class cancellation’ emails with.

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