Although born in Harlem, New York, Clarence Stewart is quick to note an Alabama community near and dear to Auburn University as his hometown of many years.
“I come from a diverse background, having been born in Harlem, New York, and raised in the close-knit community of Valley, Alabama,” he said of the small town just 30 miles northeast of Auburn’s campus. “This upbringing instilled in me a profound appreciation for diverse perspectives and strong community values.”
Such love for community and a safe environment — at home and abroad — led Stewart to his career path in the military and ultimately that of public safety. Today, Stewart employs the many skills he learned throughout a 10-year distinguished career in the Army from 1989-99 and subsequent two decades of service with the Auburn Police Department to help keep the Auburn campus safe.
“What I love most about working on the Plains is the sense of community and the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of students, faculty and staff at Auburn University,” he said. “The Auburn community is close-knit, and I cherish the chance to contribute to its safety and well-being.”
Clarence Stewart, center, was recently named Auburn University’s assistant vice president for Campus Safety and Compliance. He is pictured walking on Auburn's campus with community partners.
Safeguarding a community
Just this past year, Stewart was named Auburn University’s assistant vice president for Campus Safety and Compliance. Prior to that, he served as the assistant police chief for the City of Auburn. Stewart began working for the Auburn Police Department as a patrolman in 2003 and rose to the assistant police chief role by 2020. In his new position at Auburn, he said his primary focus is on enhancing campus safety, ensuring compliance with safety regulations and fostering a secure environment for everyone at the university.
“My favorite part of my job is knowing that I play a crucial role in safeguarding the Auburn University community,” he said. “I take great pride in working collaboratively with my dedicated team to ensure the safety and security of everyone on campus.”
Stewart’s two decades of working to protect the City of Auburn prior to his start at the university set him apart as the perfect leader to guide campus safety, with a renewed focus on further building community bonds.
"We are excited that Clarence is part of our team,” said Kevin Robinson, Auburn’s vice president for Institutional Compliance and Security. “He not only brings his law enforcement experience, but also has a strong academic background, having received his Ph.D. from Auburn University. His established relationship with Auburn's police department and deep-rooted understanding of Auburn’s culture will prove to be critical assets as we move Campus Safety and Security forward."
Stewart said his love of serving the public comes from his many years in the Army.
“It was this commitment to service that naturally led me to consider a career in campus safety and law enforcement,” Stewart said.
Stewart said he is focused on continuing the unique and great partnership that exists between Auburn University and its community.
“Collaboration between the city and campus safety is essential for overall safety,” he said. “We work closely with local law enforcement agencies to share information, coordinate responses and ensure seamless safety efforts that extend beyond campus boundaries. This partnership is vital in addressing safety concerns effectively.”
To that end, Auburn’s Department of Campus Safety and Security is focusing on regular meetings with city and public safety leaders — including those with Auburn Police Department, Auburn Fire Department and the Lee County Emergency Management Agency. Campus Safety and Security also will be sharing ongoing helpful information with local businesses through the Auburn Chamber of Commerce.
In the way of proactive measures, Campus Safety and Security is seeking to implement additional technology to further its communication and processes — including a plan to expand the campus’ security camera network (with some cameras that could include AI technology) and grow security shuttle routes to meet the need of a greater number of customers.
“We have seen exponential growth in the use of our security shuttles, and it will require us to reimagine the current model in order that we maintain the highest level of service to our riders,” said Ashley Gann, public information officer for Campus Safety and Security.
The security shuttle provides safe, door-to-door on-campus transportation from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. seven days a week while classes are in session. Rides can be requested through the free Auburn Safety app or by calling 334-844-7400.
At your service
The shuttles are among a wide range of services provided, to include those of emergency response, crime prevention, security patrols, safety education programs and fostering meaningful community engagement.
“Our goal is to proactively address safety concerns and respond swiftly when needed,” Stewart said.
Campus Safety and Security works on the forefront to address safety while coordinating with Auburn Police Department, which assists in responding to emergent calls as they come in from campus. Campus Safety and Security and Auburn Police Department even share a building on campus and have plans to operate within the same communications operating system.
Additional safety measures on campus include the free Auburn Safety app, Auburn’s AU Alert notification system, the university crime log — which is updated daily — a variety of training to include CPR, First Aid, Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), emergency preparedness, active shooter response, preventing targeted violence (new), the Campus Community Emergency Response Team (Campus CERT), Campus Security Authority (CSA) and RAD Self-Defense for Women. There also is the Threat Assessment Team, which is a multidisciplinary team that works to prevent targeted violence and advises on incidents involving individuals who may reasonably pose a threat to the safety or well-being of members of the university community.
At the end of the day, Stewart said his devotion to the safety of Auburn’s campus all goes back to his commitment to service, his love of community and his desire to do all he can for the hometown area he loves.
“I want the public and the Auburn University community to know that campus safety is our top priority,” he said. “My team and I work tirelessly around the clock to ensure that everyone on campus feels secure. We are committed to listening, responding and continuously improving safety measures to meet the evolving needs of the Auburn University community.”