UNCW UPD Chief David Donaldson to Retire June 1

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

After 29 years of service, David Donaldson will be retiring as chief of the UNCW University Police Department effective June 1, 2021. Major Chris Bertram, assistant police chief, will serve as interim. Donaldson joined UNCW in 1992 as an officer and was promoted to chief of police in 2003.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Chief Donaldson over the last three years and have been impressed with his ability to lead through very difficult circumstances,” said Miles Lackey, vice chancellor for business affairs. “He has been such an asset to the university and it has been an honor to work with him. He has made a lasting impact at UNCW and we are all grateful for his service.”

Under Chief Donaldson’s leadership, the police department implemented enhanced training for officers, dispatchers and university stakeholders to promote the preparedness of campus during emergency situations, including the early implementation of active attacker training for the campus community. He also oversaw the UPD facility expansion project completed in 2018 to better address the facility needs associated with campus policing, as well as significant improvements to the campus emergency notification system. The police department is in the final stages of becoming nationally accredited.

Donaldson worked to broaden relationships with local and regional law enforcement agencies, advocacy agencies, the District Attorney’s office and other police departments in the UNC System. He also helped organize monthly meetings with law enforcement leaders in the Cape Fear region.

“I have valued our partnership with Chief Donaldson. I consider him a man of integrity and an excellent leader,” said New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon. “He has always been willing to assist us in any area. I see him as a leader among leaders.”

Wilmington Police Chief Donny Williams noted Donaldson’s willingness to “look at the bigger picture that benefits everyone.”

“Even though the campus does not have the resources that we have, Chief Donaldson was always there to help. I wish him well, and whoever replaces him, I hope that they will have that same open mind to us working together,” Williams continued. “I realize people have their own priorities, but I think at the end of the day we all want to accomplish the same thing and work collectively towards ensuring the safety of our region.”

For the past 16 years, New Hanover and Pender County District Attorney Ben David has joined Donaldson in providing information about safety and responsibility during freshman orientation.

“It has led to a great friendship, and one that I've seen in so many spheres from his relentless pursuit of the highest training for the people in his agency, to the partnerships he's formed with the many other police divisions throughout town, to the professionalism I see in the courtroom when UNCW officers are summoned to be there,” said David. “I want to join with everybody, not only as the district attorney but as an adjunct faculty member at UNCW, in thanking him for his great work.”

Donaldson credited his success to his officers and staff, and noted being able to serve as chief of police has been “a privilege of a lifetime.”

“I feel honored to be able to say our university can be proud of its police department. The women and men in all roles and responsibilities are highly capable and dedicated to the department’s mission and the university’s role in helping make dreams come true,” said Donaldson. “I can say the same of the countless administrators, faculty, staff, senior officers and other colleagues with whom I have interacted for nearly three decades.”

--Venita Jenkins