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NDSP promotes Johnson

Ken Fowler | Friday, March 23, 2007

It’s a promotion that comes with the heaviest of hearts.

Two weeks after the death of Notre Dame Security/Police (NDSP) director Rex Rakow, longtime friend and current associate director of NDSP, Phil Johnson, was named Rakow’s successor Thursday.

“I’m very humbled and honored by the appointment,” Johnson said. “I think that Rex worked very hard through the years to form a wonderful group of people – a group of people I’m honored to lead. … This department has had great leadership, and I’ve been lucky to be a part of a great leadership team for many years.”

Johnson assumed Rakow’s day-to-day responsibilities as head of the department when the former director became too sick to work and went on leave in January. Rakow battled cancer for 18 months before his death March 7.

Johnson joined NDSP as an assistant director in 1986 and was promoted to associate director in 2005. Before coming to Notre Dame, Johnson served as director of security at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., and director of campus safety at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich. He said his years at Carleton and Aquinas were “formative,” though his 21 years of experience at Notre Dame will be the key to his success as director of NDSP.

“We have a really good sense of our mission and our values, and I think we have a very good vision of the future,” Johnson said.

Notre Dame officials praised Johnson Thursday in a news release.

“I am grateful that Phil has accepted our offer to assume the leadership of Notre Dame Security/Police,” vice president for Student Affairs Mark Poorman said. “His service, especially over the last few months, has been a genuine inspiration to the department, and he is an eminently respected professional in the law enforcement community.”

Vice President for Residence Life Bill Kirk called Johnson “the natural choice” to replace Rakow.

“He is an excellent administrator, an outstanding police officer, and a person truly committed to serving our students well,” Kirk said.

Johnson is currently the director-at-large of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and serves on the board of the Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County.