Tyrone A. Parham, chief of police at Penn State, hired as new UMass assistant vice chancellor/police chief

By Anthony Rentsch

UMass Police Department Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

UMass Police Department
Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

The University of Massachusetts announced that Tyrone A. Parham, previously the chief of police and public safety at Pennsylvania State University, has been hired to the new position of assistant vice chancellor and chief of police.

Parham, a man of color and a Philadelphia native, has served as the head of Penn State’s police department since 2011 and was in the department for over 20 years. He will take over at UMass on Jan. 11.

He will oversee nearly 100 officers, support staff and cadets, as well as over 200 student security monitors. Penn State’s force is made up of 51 police officers, security officers, dispatchers and civilian employees, and also manages over 100 student security personnel.

In addition to these duties, he will act as an advisor to Enku Gelaye, vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life, on issues of campus safety, security and community policing, which is a part of the newly designed job description.

“I am honored to have been chosen to lead an exceptionally talented team of campus law enforcement professionals at a world-class institution,” he said in a statement. “I am passionate about campus public safety, and I look forward to meeting everyone and strengthening relationships all across campus and in our surrounding communities.”

Parham is expected to be involved with efforts to diversify the UMass campus as well as the police department. University spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski said Parham has a “strong background” of working with diverse student groups. Lauren Coakley, speaker of the Student Government Association senate and a member of the search committee, said she believed he would do a good job of recruiting more women and people of color to the police force.

“He is a highly respected leader in campus law enforcement who is committed to building strong relationships in a diverse community,” Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said. “Our campus will benefit immensely from Tyrone Parham’s wide-ranging experience at one of the nation’s most prominent public universities.”

Coakley said that Parham set himself apart to the search committee throughout the process, especially with his plans to increase outreach to students.

“We are very fortunate to have Tyrone Parham join our campus leadership,” Gelaye said. “He clearly understands the complexity of a public flagship university and the importance of working collaboratively with all members of our community, while his commitment to community policing reflects his values of responsiveness and respectfulness.”

Large-scale event planning was also identified as one of Parham’s strengths in a University news release. At Penn State, he managed the special events division, which included public safety oversight of the school’s 107,000-seat football stadium, concerts, presidential visits and other special events.

Coakley pointed to his experience handling an event similar to Blarney Blowout that happens on Penn State’s campus: “State Patty’s Day.”

“He is familiar with those types of large gatherings,” she said. “He will be a huge asset to planning for them.”

Former chief of police John Horvath left to head the Rockport Police Department in May. Patrick Archbald has served as the interim chief since then.

Anthony Rentsch can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Anthony_Rentsch.