Johnson named as Everett’s successor

by Chris Winter

Griffin Reporter

H. Wilson “Wil” Johnson, member of the Rochester Police Department since 1982 and the current captain of its Northeast quadrant, was selected this week to replace Gary Everett as the college’s Director of Public Safety. Johnson was selected from a pool of four candidates, all of whom interviewed at Canisius in March.

“When I saw this job I said that is a job I would love to have,” Johnson told the Griffin. “It allows other people and me to work in an environment that actively supports our faith. I realize to some people that is not important, but to me it is.

Johnson earned the endorsement of both Everett and Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Terri Mangione, who was charged with making the final selection. He will spend his first month on the job shadowing Everett, and in one of the logistically difficult months of the year for the school.

“One thing I am extremely happy with is that Canisius had the foresight to have a month working with Gary Everett,” Johnson said. “That experience will be worth its weight in gold. I am going to learn a lot. I’m going to pick Gary’s mind for every bit of knowledge he has gained in 32 years. I don’t want to do things that are offensive to people because they have always been done a certain way.”

Johnson also has a unique task in that his first day on the job will be May 1, the day of the campus’ annual “Griff Fest” festivities, which in the past have yielded controversial results. When asked about our spring festivities, Johnson said that he understands that there are tensions between students and the community regarding the day, acknowledging that problems of the past should not dictate the future while also conceding that opinions are hard to change once they’re formed.

He does, however, have ideas in mind for mending some of the wounds of the past, one of which is to hold regular meetings with members of the Hamlin Park neighborhood. While attendance might be low at first, he said, persistence will be the key.

“If we make progress I think people will start to come,” he said. “I want people to feel like we are making them as much a part of the Canisius Community as much as Canisius is part of their community.”

When asked about his draw to Canisius, Johnson said that during his day at Canisius during the interview process, he was impressed all around with the college and campus community. “Canisius is a phenomenal place,” he said. “Everyone here knows each other.”

Johnson has been married for 30 years as of this year, has kids in their late 20’s, and grandchildren. He has a garage full of motorcycles, and 10 years ago became a deacon in the Rochester Diocese. He hopes to carry that on to Canisius and the Buffalo Diocese, but that is a long formal process that must go through Rome. He also has spent 32 years in the Rochester Police Department, which he made his career after going to school in Rochester to teach.

He brings with him experience in balancing budgets, and years served as a captain in a neighborhood very similar to the one we have here at Canisius.

Equipment was one of the things Johnson mentioned as issues he would like to address in the Public Safety Department. He specifically mentioned getting laptops into all of the squad cars.

Johnson made his strategy very clear. He intends to look at all of the issues and weigh them. He intends on looking at the way things are done and asking, “Why?” If there is a good reason for the way something is done, he says that there is no reason to fix something if it is not broke. On the other side of the coin, if there are better ways to do things, he wants to take his time to address them in a way he does not step on toes or over fix problems.

“We have always done it this way isn’t a good answer,” he said. “Maybe it’s the most efficient way. I know there are things that are working so well they shouldn’t be changed.”

He also addressed the nature of organizing a budget for a non profit business. “People think that government has all this money to spend, but you have to figure out how to run a business with that money you have,” he said. “It’s not like you can go out and increase production and sales.”

Johnson said that he is very excited to start, and he certainly seems to fit the mold that Canisius College champions.


To that effect, Mangione discussed the final steps of the selection process. After talking to all of those involved, and reading over evaluations, Kathy Hummel and Kevin Smith from the selection committee presented Mangione with a pros and cons list for all of the candidates. Mangione said that there was a lot of support for Johnson, and that he seemed like the right fit.

“He was not only interested in making a career change, but particularly interested at a Catholic and Jesuit institution,” she said. “He gets the mission of the institution. It was a deeper understanding. He sees this role as an educator role.”

Mangione is looking forward to working with Johnson and agrees that his time with Everett is priceless. “It was our intention from the beginning to wrap up the search by March and have someone in by May so that they could have a month,” she said. “That seems to be going well.”


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