Campus Security Chief Koren Kanadanian Resigns
by Hannah Langley ’21
On Dec. 28, 2020, Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P., and Ann Manchester-Molak, president and executive vice president of Providence College, released a statement announcing the resignation of Koren Kanadanian, chief of Providence College public safety, effective Dec. 31, 2020.
In this announcement, Fr. Sicard and Molak discussed Kanadanian’s acceptance of a new role at a national healthcare corporation in Massachusetts, his history with the College’s public safety and emergency management departments, and his experience in law enforcement and armed forces prior to working at PC. The statement also announced that Eric Croce, deputy chief of Providence College public safety, would reside as Kanadanian’s temporary replacement.
At the end of the email, they stated, “We are grateful for Koren’s service to Providence College for the past 12 years, and we wish him much success as he applies his experience, training, and skills to this important new position.”
In this email, they discussed Kanadian’s work as director of emergency management beginning in 2008 and his appointment as chief in 2019, as well as his work in “re-organiz[ing] the department of public safety, and the College’s operations in emergency management, emergency medical services, and transportation, resulting in a more efficient and effective operational structure.”
While this email highlighted the work Kanadanian has done over the past 12 years at the College, his law enforcement background, and his service in the U.S. Air Force, there were some members of the PC community who were pleased about his resignation, which came after an incident early in the fall semester.
In September 2020, Kanadanian released a safety advisory reporting “suspicious activity” on Admiral Street. The advisory stated that a PC student was “approached by a light-skinned male . . .operating a minivan” who “pulled over to the curb but stayed in his vehicle” and “motioned the victim towards the car while attempting to communicate in Spanish.”
PC clubs, such as the Organization of Latin-American Students (OLAS), wrote statements following this email condemning Kanadanian’s report. “This announcement,” OLAS said, “is harmful for the Latinx community and local Providence community as it insinuates being ‘light-skinned’ and speaking Spanish constitutes ‘suspicious activity.’”
They continued, saying, “A report like this perpetuates the systemic racism and discrimination actively present at Providence College.”
Later that afternoon, Kanadanian retracted the advisory, stating that it was “premature, incomplete, and, most importantly, as worded, racially and linguistically insensitive.” In response to community backlash, Fr. Sicard announced that Kanadanian would be taking a 60-day leave of absence, during which he would “participate in an extensive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training and self-reflection” among other requirements and efforts taken by the College going forward.
Despite Kanadanian’s resignation, there are still members of the PC community that recognize the need for further and more systemic change within the PC community.
Following Kanadanian’s resignation and Fr. Sicard’s email to the community, there were multiple submissions to the @BlackatPC Instagram page in which members of the campus community highlighted concerns they had about both Kanadanian’s resignation and Fr. Sicard’s message afterwards.
The College has now begun the search process for Kanadanian’s formal replacement. Molak explained how there is currently an “external firm” working with the College “to conduct an assessment of [the College’s] public safety department.” Once this assessment is complete, a committee will be formed, consisting of faculty, staff, and students to select a new chief. This committee will work closely with the external firm, as well as human resources, to recruit and screen candidates.