Davidson College Names New Campus Police Chief
Julian Coaxum, a veteran law enforcement leader in higher education, will join Davidson College as the new chief of the campus police in January—three decades after he squared off against the Wildcats football team.
Coaxum, pronounced COKES-uhm, brings 20 years of policing experience to the role, including as chief at two universities, and a familiarity with Davidson since his youth in Columbia, South Carolina. He emphasized the different role of law enforcement on a college campus, having spent his career, first, rising through the ranks at the University of South Carolina and, then, serving as chief at Savannah State University, in Georgia, and Dillard University, in New Orleans, Louisiana, his current post.
“It’s not just law enforcement,” Coaxum said. “The goal is to support the mission of the college, to help young people matriculate into adult lives and pursuits, to make a great impact on the world. That learning doesn’t all take place in the classroom…Sometimes it’s just in a safe place with a law enforcement officer who does not seem intimidating, because the student sees them in the cafeteria or on the grounds or at an event.”
Ann McCorvey, Davidson’s vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer, said Coaxum’s depth of experience is matched by his understanding of a campus environment where officers provide guidance as much as regulation.
“Julian knows how to lead police officers in a close community in which we know them all and look to them for help in times other than an emergency,” McCorvey said. “Like the rest of our staff and faculty, his focus is on helping students step into the world and lead lives of impact.”
Coaxum will succeed Todd Sigler, who is retiring after six years at Davidson and 36 in law enforcement, and who helped strengthen the department’s relationships with students, expand training and elevate emergency management preparedness.
Coaxum earned his undergraduate degree in history at nearby Johnson C. Smith University, a neighboring institution and another Duke Endowment-supported school. He played football, including against Davidson, before heading to Liberty University and earning a master’s in executive leadership. He also holds certification in a variety of specialized law enforcement training.
His father, an Air Force veteran and firefighter, inspired his devotion to service, which has included volunteering with the Special Olympics and recently joining the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. He said working in higher education is a natural path, especially given the influence of his mother, a retired educator, who instilled his drive to be a lifelong learner.
“You watch young people grow and mature. You get to be part of helping them, from that first day on campus, unsure of themselves, to leadership roles on campus and then into the world,” he said. “On commencement day, that young person has come a long way…and I like to see the journey, see them get where they need to go.”