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Announcing SLU's Next AVP for Public Safety


SLU faculty, staff and students,

I am thrilled to share that today we are naming Melinda “Mel” Heikkinen as our next Assistant Vice President for Public Safety.

Melinda Heikkinen headshotMel will join SLU starting Feb. 14 as the head of our Department of Public Safety (DPS), coming most recently from Hamline University where she served as the Director of Public Safety and Transportation and COVID-19 Coordinator. She is retired from the military having served in both Marine Corps and the Army National Guard. You can review her resume here, or watch her campus presentation here.

During her time at Hamline University, Mel received the 2021 Staff Member of the Year from Hamline’s Student Congress, and the 2020 Trish LaPlante Distinguished Service Award. She also received the 2016 Exemplary Sexual Assault Response Coordinator designation from the Department of Defense for her work implementing and leading the Washington Army National Guard’s Statewide Sexual Assault Response program, which impacted more than 7,000 soldiers and airmen.

When not working, Mel enjoys spending time with her wife of 15 years, Kelly, researching history, traveling and attempting to play golf. I am quite excited for their next travel adventure as they prepare to move to St. Louis from St. Paul!

Mel’s leadership, experience and passion for what it means to serve in public safety at a higher education institution have more than convinced me that she is the right person for this role. The input from dozens of students, faculty and staff who met with her was clear that the campus agreed. The feedback felt unanimous.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this process, and particularly to the dedicated search committee, chaired by Dr. Daniel Blash from SLU’s School of Medicine, for bringing a talented and diverse group of professionals forward for this search. I am proud of the inclusive and transparent process they created for our community.

Please join me in welcoming Mel to campus in the coming months!


Sarah Cunningham
Vice President for Student Development