Deputy chief named to interim job at UI

Jeff Christensen, deputy police chief at the University of Illinois, has been named interim chief to succeed outgoing Chief Barbara O'Connor.

O'Connor, the UI's director of public safety since 2009, has accepted a position as chief and director of public safety at the University of Connecticut.

Christensen will become acting chief and director of public safety on Feb. 10 when O'Connor leaves, and then will become interim chief on March 3, O'Connor's official last day after her accumulated vacation, said campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler.

A national search for a new chief will be led by the Hollins Group, the same consulting firm used to hire O'Connor. Associate Chancellor Michael DeLorenzo said officials hope to complete that process by spring.

"They already are familiar with the institution and position," DeLorenzo said in a release, adding that it will be a national search to attract a "large and diverse pool of candidates."

A longtime UI police officer, Christensen started his service as a student as one of the campus's first student-patrol supervisors. He was hired by the department in 1985 and won the Chancellor's Distinguished Staff Award in 1998. He was named assistant chief in 2009.

Christensen was also interim chief from 2007 to 2009, during the search that led to O'Connor's hiring.

Chancellor and Vice President Phyllis Wise said the university is fortunate to have "such a dedicated professional" serving as interim chief while the national search is under way. Wise said he's already familiar with the unique demands placed on campus police and "his appointment to the interim position will maintain our high expectations for campus safety."

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