At University Police, changes reflect continuing commitment to safety

June 02, 2011

University Park, Pa. -- As part of a continuing and comprehensive approach to safety and security across the University, Penn State has announced a restructuring of University Police and Public Safety. The effort is the result of Penn State’s “Creating a Safer and More Secure University Key Initiative,” designed to enhance existing relationships among units that have a hand in safety and security, and to promote a culture of safety, at all of the University’s campuses.

As part of this effort, Steve Shelow, former director of University Police at the University Park campus, has begun work in a new role as assistant vice president for Police and Public Safety. Shelow will provide strategic leadership in five broad areas crucial to University public safety including University Police at University Park, campus police and security programs, emergency management, behavioral threat assessment and community education, and building access control and electronic security.

Shelow, who joined University Police in 1988, said it is his goal to promote synergistic relationships among the units involved and to take a holistic approach to managing the safety of the university community.

“We want Penn State to continue to be among the safest colleges and universities in the country, and to do that we all need to have a sense of belonging to the notion of ‘safety first,’” he said. “We want to be an institution of excellence and we want to promote safety along the way.”

Al Horvath, Penn State’s senior vice president for Finance and Business/treasurer, said the changes represent the next logical step at a university where safety and security always have been a top priority.

“In the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, Hurricane Katrina, Virginia Tech and other tragic events, there is a continuing need to emphasize safety, to reduce the risk to Penn State’s students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Horvath said. “We are fortunate to have strong leaders in key roles as we focus on safety and security enhancements at all 24 Penn State campus locations.”

In addition to the change in roles for Shelow, former Deputy Director of University Police Tyrone Parham has been named director of University Police at University Park; former Emergency Management Planner Brian Bittner has been named director of emergency management; and former Assistant Director of Campus Police and Security Support William Donahue has been named director of campus police and security programs.

Parham, who has served for 18 years on Penn State’s police force, said the reorganization means the experienced team the University has in place will be able to work even more effectively to meet a broad set of challenges.

“We’re all used to working together, side by side, and we will continue to do that,” Parham said. “These changes allow for more strategic focus in specific areas and for long-term stability.”

In his role as director of emergency management, Bittner will focus his attention on building a program that takes a comprehensive approach to emergency preparedness at Penn State. He said his first priority is to ensure that up-to-date emergency operations and business continuity plans are in place at the University’s locations across the commonwealth, both at the unit and campus level.

“We need to ensure the safety and security of those who work and attend classes at Penn State, first and foremost,” said Bittner, a 14-year veteran of the Penn State police force. “The plans we’re working to implement also allow us to continue day-to-day operations in the event of an emergency that would otherwise disrupt normal operations.”

Shelow said he and his team meet weekly to update one another on operational issues within the five areas covered by University Police and Public Safety, and to track progress toward strategic goals that he has set for the units. He said those involved in safety and security operations at Penn State feel enthusiastic about the changes, which he said have come as a result of broad support from University administrators.

“These changes are based on continued high-level support for, and encouragement of, safety practices at Penn State, and our entire organization is very excited about the direction in which we’re headed,” Shelow said. “Many people here see this as a reflection of the support that the University gives to our mission. I couldn’t think of a better place to be in terms of police and public safety than Penn State.”

To see all images associated with this story, visit online. For more information about University Police and Public Safety, visit online; for more information about emergency management at Penn State, visit online.

  • At center, Steve Shelow, assistant vice president for Police and Public Safety at Penn State, talked with University Police Dispatcher Christopher Brace on June 1 at the police station on the University Park campus. Click on the image above for more photos.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated January 09, 2015