Posted Online: March 24, 2012, 7:33 pm

Civilian life: Augie's public safety director makes adjustment

Comment on this story

By Anthony Watt,

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Greg Venvertloh brings almost three decades of military experience to his new position as Augustana College's Director of Public Safety. That experience is providing parallels that Mr. Venvertloh is putting to work as he builds “a culture of safety” at the school.
The switch was not a small one -- going from helping run an American military base the size of a city to helping run a small, private, liberal arts college.

But Greg Venvertloh, Augustana College's new director of public safety, insists the transition to the college from Camp Victory in Iraq, where he was director of public works, was not drastic.

Safety standards are not that different from place to place, and a job is usually about working with people to get problems overcome, he said.

"To be quite honest, it's not a huge adjustment," Mr. Venvertloh said.

At Victory, Mr. Venvertloh helped ready the base to be handed over to the Iraqi government, he said. At the time, there were 20,000 people -- American military personnel as well as U.S. civilians and the citizens of 30 other countries -- who called the base home.

That job was one of his greatest accomplishments, he said.

Mr. Venvertloh began his new job in January. He said he is reviewing Augustana's safety procedures, looking for what works and what might need improvement.

His goals are to improve the campus safety culture, ensure that safety procedures and rules -- from environmental and fire safety to security-- are being properly maintained and met and TO make that information available on a campus safety website, Mr. Venvertloh said. Another goal is to ease the campus into any necessary changes by not making too many too fast.

"Augustana has a good safety culture," he said. "We're going to make it great."

Much of his professional life has been related to safety, he said.

Mr. Venvertloh's military career began in 1984 and has spanned the regular and part-time components of the Army. He began as an enlisted man in the regular service, then joined the National Guard and went to school in Quincy, his home town, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Chemistry.

After earning that degree, the Army offered him a commission, and he became part of a fast response team whose job it was to counter the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

As a civilian contractor, he also helped train the security forces of various U.S. Navy bases in how to deal with potentially hazardous material threats.

At Camp Victory, his responsibilities included safety, construction, facilities maintenance, recycling, hazardous materials and waste removal.

Mr. Venvertloh now holds the rank of major and is still active in the Iowa National Guard.

The thing he learned during his career -- and that he will apply to his job at Augustana -- is making sure communication is a key component of his operation, Mr. Venvertloh said. Being able to communicate with superiors and subordinates is an indication of good leadership.

"If you're not communicating, bad things can happen," he said.

He said the people of Augustana have made his job easier.

"The caliber of people here is just amazing," he said.

More about Greg Venvertloh:

Age: 47.

Hometown: Quincy, but lives near Galesburg.

Family: Wife and three children, ages 9 to 14.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Environmental Chemistry from Quincy University.

Hobbies: Getting his kids to their various extracurricular activities.