Director of Security builds connections with students

Serena Runyan

Though his son may be the one wearing the costume, Matt Stroe is the real superhero.
Matt Stroe has been Whitman’s Director of Security for one year now, and his son is the four-year-old that wears superhero costumes to every home basketball game.
Photo by Halley McCormick
Photo by Halley McCormick

Stroe focuses on one main idea when he talks about Whitman: He is thoroughly impressed by Whitman students and the strong sense of “family-like community” on campus. He emphasizes how important it is to the Department of Security to protect this community and the campus that houses it.

While Stroe’s focus is on security, he is also eager to get to know the students and staff of Whitman, whom he says he “sees like an extension of [his] own family.”
A psychology exam Stroe took for a previous job revealed that he has the personality of a coach, which to Stroe only proved what he had felt all along: that he “enjoys watching and helping kids grow and succeed.”
The opportunity to guide Whitman students through college is one that Stroe embraces with enthusiasm. He likes the chance to “show that [he] cares so that there’s trust for when there’s a moment.”
Associate Dean of Students Barbara Maxwell affirmed this.
“[The previous director of security was] a different person with a great personality,” she said. “[Stroe is] more extroverted.”
Additionally, she added that he has sought a multitude of relationships with the student body.
Stroe has particularly enjoyed getting to know students through the Student Escort Service. Stroe says that this resource is largely underused by the Whitman community.
“I was shocked to find out that last year only 14 students requested an escort,” he said. “This year, we hope to increase that number.”
Stroe says that any security officer on duty would postpone all other obligations to escort students, faculty and staff members
“The safety of members of the Whitman community takes absolute precedent,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for a good interaction.”
The Stroe family has found several opportunities to immerse themselves in the Whitman community. They can often be found at Whitman athletic events. The youngest Stroe can be spotted by his various superhero outfits.
According to Stroe, all members of the family are excited to meet Whitman students.
“The kids missed the students during the summer,” he said, adding that he and his wife hope that “the Whitman attitude of caring bleeds over into [their] home life.”
Stroe and his sons can also be seen biking around Ankeny Field, meeting the basketball players they so admire and visiting Penrose Library.
“They each get to pick out their own books,” said Stroe, referring to his kids.
Stroe can be found in Memorial 127, and Maxwell says that she believes Stroe will be open and willing to discuss any suggestions students might have.