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Q&A with ATSU’s new director of safety & security

Brian Schuman while serving as chief of police at the Northern California VA Healthcare System in 2011.

A.T. Still University (ATSU) recently named Brian Schuman as the University’s new director of safety & security. Schuman assumed the role on Jan. 17, 2023. 

As director, he will be overseeing security for all ATSU campuses. Previously, Schuman served with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in various security roles, including 16 years as police chief at three VA healthcare systems. He has also spent time with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including three years as a federal air marshal and six years as a supervisory police officer/lieutenant.

Get to know Brian Schuman and learn more about his background and experience, along with some of his safety tips!

Q: Hi Brian! Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this Q&A session. Could you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself? 

A: I am happy to and appreciate the opportunity. I have been happily married for 26 years to my beautiful bride, Kristin, and we are very proud of our son, Destry, who resides in Flagstaff, Arizona, with his girlfriend, Allison, where he works as a wildland firefighter.

I am a U.S. military veteran, having served in the Navy as a hospital corpsman working L&D/Mother-Infant at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. Following my time at Balboa, I served as an EMT on board the USS Nimitz, working in the sick bay of a very busy aircraft carrier.

I have spent the last 26 years serving in various law enforcement roles, with the final 17 years serving as a chief of police and regional chief of police for the Department of Veterans Affairs. During my career I have worked as a patrol officer, detective, physical security specialist, criminal investigator, and special agent. I retired on Dec. 17, 2022 after a total of 30 years of federal service. 

Q: What brought you to A.T. Still University? 

A: When my wife and I decided it was time to consider the next adventure following my retirement, we began looking at areas where we would like to settle down. We looked in Arizona, Kentucky, and Missouri, specifically, as all three states were places one or both of us had lived during our lifetime. I saw the announcement for ATSU in late November and applied for the position. Almost immediately I received communication from Tony Magliano, MS, senior director, university facilities, and from the outset felt like this was a good fit. My wife and I have a deep faith and rely on that faith in our decision making, which has served us well over the years. It didn’t take long for either of us to feel like we were being drawn to ATSU and the mission.  

When you look at my history you will see that I have focused my life in the medical field in one fashion or another, either in the patient care or healthcare administration side. ATSU allows me to continue that by serving as your safety & security director and focusing on the security of tomorrow’s healthcare providers. I shared with someone recently that I hope to see some of the healthcare professionals who graduate from ATSU as I am receiving my care at the VA Medical Center in Columbia or the out-patient clinic here in Kirksville someday.

I can honestly say that since beginning my ATSU journey, starting with the recruitment process, everyone has been so welcoming and kind. That goes a long way to being an employer of choice and encourages retention. I know it is a big reason why I am here in Kirksville today.

Q: How has your previous experience, such as at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, shaped your views on safety and security?

A: Having served as a federal air marshal and a federal police officer, I have learned the importance of community-oriented policing. Whether it’s working with flight crews and passengers at 30,000 feet immediately following the events of 9/11, or at some of the busiest medical centers in the country, I have learned that safety and security is everyone’s responsibility. It truly takes a village to build a safe and secure community.

Additionally, having served in law enforcement in busy hospitals, I became a staunch supporter of the Peelian Principles of Policing, which are the founding principles of modern policing and what it was intended to be. When working in the healthcare environment, many times we are seeing people at their most vulnerable, when traditional policing is not always practical or appropriate. I will bring that same mentality to the safety and security department of ATSU, where we are providing a safe and secure environment that allows our students to focus on learning, and our staff and faculty to focus on teaching and supporting tomorrow’s healthcare professionals.

My ultimate goal is to assure the families of our students, staff, and faculty that while their loved ones are here, they do not need to worry about their safety and security, and that there are dedicated professionals whose sole job is ensuring their safety and security day in and day out.

Q: What are some aspects of personal safety you feel as though people often overlook?

A: The importance of awareness. It is easy for us to get so involved in our day-to-day routines that we forget to consider that our personal safety starts with us. Just being aware of our surroundings and when something doesn’t feel right, reporting it. I have a saying I shared with every new employee orientation program that I have taught, “I would rather receive a hundred calls for the same incident that amount to nothing, than miss that one call that could have prevented a tragedy.” Be aware, and take care of your community family. We truly are in this together.

Q: How can students, faculty, and staff work together to create a stronger safety culture on campus?

A: It really comes down to committing yourself to your community. Watching out for one another and taking a stand when necessary to ensure we are all safe. If you see someone who is struggling or needs help, even if you don’t believe the resources are immediately available, report it. The resources may not appear available, but many times, with a community like ours, we can find the resources and may very well save a life. Additionally, If something doesn’t look right, or even feel right, notify security. Don’t blow it off. Just one person making one phone call has prevented tragedies. I have seen it firsthand. This is your community. Take a stand and get involved.

Q: How do you hope to engage with the ATSU community in your role?

A: As chief of police, I used to hold quarterly “Coffee with the Chief” events where staff, patients, and visitors could come sit down, share a cup of coffee (or in my case, a diet soda) and just talk. Sometimes I would have individuals want to discuss personal safety and law enforcement issues, or they would ask about personal and physical security topics. There were times they just wanted to talk about sports. I was good with whatever the topic was because it gave me the opportunity to connect with my community. 

I look forward to continuing that here at ATSU by instituting “Coffee with Security” events in the Commons. This will be an opportunity to have a free cup of coffee and just talk about whatever is on your mind, whether that’s safety and security related, the Kansas City Chiefs, upcoming finals, or even just the weather. 

Additionally, having worked in hospitals for the past 22 years in a law enforcement capacity, I am looking forward to setting up one-hour courses on practitioner safety in the hospital environment. These discussions will focus on red flags in disruptive behavior, safety in home healthcare, and personal safety awareness to name a few. I hope to give as much of my knowledge garnered over 22 years in hospital safety and security to better protect our ATSU community both on campus and beyond. 

Q: What is the No. 1 safety tip you can give to readers to stay safe? 

A: The most important safety tip is that safety and security is everyone’s responsibility. I have learned in my 26 years of law enforcement that the communities that thrive are the ones where everyone takes an active role in watching out for one another. Whether it’s following a natural disaster or trying to prevent a human-created incident, being safety and security conscious and reporting things that are out of the ordinary creates an environment where everyone feels more safe.


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