Albert Vasquez is New Executive Director of Enterprise Risk Management

Thirty-four years of law enforcement help him navigate each emergency situation

Albert Vasquez is UCR’s executive director of Enterprise Risk Management. Photo by Kris Lovekin

By Amy Zahn

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — Albert Vasquez, former Assistant Vice Chancellor for Campus and Public Safety and Chief of Police at UC Merced, recently became UC Riverside’s first ever Executive Director of Enterprise Risk Management. A seasoned campus administrator and former law enforcement official, Vasquez will oversee the handling of any and all facets of campus safety, from chemical spills to earthquake preparedness to air quality.

Vasquez has had over 15 years of senior administrative experience in education and over 34 years of law enforcement experience, which he will put to use managing the safety of UCR.

“There are things that occur that aren’t going to be written down. You can have all the greatest plans in the world, but if you don’t have the experience, they’re just that — plans,” he said.

Vasquez has worked with the United States Department of Justice and with the United Nations International Police Task Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he helped resettle the displaced civilian population after the Bosnian War.

His experiences overseas — including in Croatia, where both his children were born, and East Timor, where he was part of establishing a national police department — have helped shape his perspective on life. He credits them with the attitude he applies to problems day to day.

“If you knew what life was like in other places, the problems we have are miniscule,” he said. He recalled having to learn to take a complete shower with just a liter and half of water, and still having some left over to drink. “You really get to appreciate this country.”

As executive director of Enterprise Risk Management, Vasquez will oversee Environmental Health and Safety, Risk Management, the UC Police Department, Emergency Planning and Continuity Planning. These departments, until recently, operated independently.

Vice Chancellor for Business and Administrative Services Ron Coley said, “We are fortunate to have recruited someone with Dr. Vasquez’s broad experience base to lead our newly established Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) division. Al’s experience with the United Nations, active shooters on campus, worker’s comp injuries, etc. will help ensure that our campus is prepared for, prevents, mitigates, responds to, and recovers from any campus disruption, major or minor.”

To this end, Vasquez plans to mold the previously independent departments into one cohesive ERM team, explaining that collaboration between departments, before a disruption will help these units respond more effectively when faced with a real incident. For example, Vasquez notes that his units working as a team when the library flooded at UC Merced, allowed for earlier determination of the source of the problem, helped to minimize damage, and significantly reduced the period of time when the library was not available for student and faculty use.

While Vasquez is prepared for the job ahead of him, there’s one thing he’s still not done with — setting up his office. A Keurig machine has found its home in the corner behind his desk, but eight of Vasquez’s prized possessions, plaques that honor his various achievements, still lay flat on the table.

“I’ve got to figure out where to hang those,” he said. A copper plaque from the Department of Justice lay on one side, just above a plaque from UC Merced’s police department.

Above all, Vasquez wants everyone at UCR, from staff members to students, to be safety-conscious on a day-to-day basis, and hopes students will feel motivated to report any safety risks they notice on campus. Safety risks, he explained, can be big or small. Even a piece of planking sticking up that could cause someone to fall and injure themselves is a matter he’d like to look into.

“I think it’s important that if a student has a concern, they let somebody, even me, know,” he said. “They’re the folks who are out there.” He invites the campus community to visit him in his office in the Environmental Health and Safety building if they ever have a concern about safety.

“As long as I’m here, my door is open.”

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