Meet Chief ‘Cisco’
Francisco Ortiz has always recognized the importance of creating “safe corridors” in and around schools. He built a career in law enforcement through municipal and campus policing that has lasted 39 years.
Now, Ortiz brings his personable approach and widespread expertise to Stetson University as director of Public Safety and coordinator of Emergency Management, effective June 1, as announced by Lua Hancock, Ed.D., Stetson’s vice president for Campus Life and Student Success.
Ortiz – called Cisco by friends and associates – will replace retiring Bob Matusick, who has been at Stetson since June 2008, following a 30-year career with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
“We will miss Bob Matusick and wish him joy as he heads into retirement,” said Hancock. “We are so excited to be able to bring ‘Cisco’ on board in this role. He brings passion and deep experience.”
Born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, an urban city he described as having numerous challenges, Ortiz learned that a community, working together, could make great strides. “Having grown up in the city, I knew that there were a great number of resources that we could draw upon to help improve the quality of life in my city,” he said.
In addition, his upbringing established a strong sense of civic duty, which led to law enforcement. “I grew up with two great role models in my parents, and they instilled in me the value of being civic-minded and being actively involved in my community and school. As a result, I found it to be a natural fit to join the local police department, because I knew about the positive role [police] played in our community in a redefined role of authority.
“As a police officer, I would get to work with my fellow officers and the members of the community to solve our problems that often lead to our young people getting caught up in the criminal-justice system.”
In an attempt to make a difference, Ortiz wound up staying in his hometown. Beginning with the New Haven Police Department in 1978, he was appointed police chief of New Haven in 2003.
School safety became one of his top priorities.
“Through community policing and incredible partners in the community, we rallied around our schools and created safe corridors to and from our neighborhoods,” he said.
“It was clear that the schools were incredible assets in our city and that fundamentally the police and the community had a shared responsibility in keeping these environments safe in order to help our young people become successful.”
After also serving communities in Hartford, Connecticut, as well as Amherst, South Hadley and Northampton, Massachusetts, he transitioned to higher education. He was director of Public Security at Yale University, the director of Campus Safety for Trinity College, and was the interim chief of police at Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges.
Regarding his own education, Ortiz earned a master’s degree in Law Enforcement Administration from the University of New Haven, where he also served as an adjunct professor in criminal justice. He is a graduate of the 170th session of the FBI National Academy, along with the Senior Management Institute for Police through the Police Executive Research Forum and the Management Training Institute of Yale University. Additionally, Ortiz has remained an active member of the National Latino Peace Officers Association.
According to Ortiz, Stetson can expect someone with a “very down-to-earth personality” who is “people centered” and “family oriented.” He has been married to Mayra Ortiz for more than 39 years with three children.
Ortiz said he was attracted to Stetson by virtue of its history and tradition, along with familiar characteristics and the excellence of the current safety team.
“The city of DeLand and Stetson represent communities and campuses that I am very familiar with,” Ortiz explained. “I consider the diversity at Stetson to be a wonderful asset. I’ve had the opportunity to visit all four campuses, and I firmly believe the teams that have been assembled at Stetson to address safety as a priority have done an outstanding job.
“Looking at the Department of Public Safety and the leadership under Chief Robert Matusick has convinced me that this is where I want to be and to build on the department’s successes.”