1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Longtime Transylvania officer named department’s first assistant chief

Transylvania University’s Department of Public Safety officially has an assistant chief for the first time in its history.

Robert Gowdy, who received a custom-made badge for the position during a reception at Graham Cottage on Friday, had been filling the assistant chief role unofficially for the past 33 years (most recently as captain). He’s led DPS as acting chief multiple times, including during leadership transitions.

Gowdy said he enjoys working with the school community and has a mission of providing a safe environment for students to learn and experience college life. “I have always heard if you enjoy what you do for your career the years will fly by, in my case this is true. I am very thankful for this new opportunity and look forward to the years ahead here at Transylvania.” 

Since the position is new, DPS had a badge custom made by Smith & Warren.

Current Director of Public Safety Joe McClure, who worked under Gowdy before becoming the chief, praised him for being an excellent supervisor — and for his support as second in command. “Gowdy serves as my stable source of guidance and direction in my role,” McClure said.

Gowdy is the only member of DPS who began his law enforcement career at Transylvania, having started in 1986. Soon after he began, he attended the Department of Criminal Justice Training police academy at Eastern Kentucky University.

“During the 1980s and 1990s, many officers began their careers at Transy but would often accept offers from other agencies after completing the police academy,” McClure said. “Current University of Kentucky Police Chief Joe Monroe started his law enforcement here at Transy in the late 1980s along with Gowdy, who differed from his fellow officers and dedicated the last 38 years to Transy and the Department of Public Safety.”

people hugging at a reception
Family, friends and fellow officers congratulated Gowdy at a reception Friday night.

Gowdy and the chief recently were the first Transylvania DPS officers to complete a challenging leadership course through the FBI-Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, which is “taught by some of the best law enforcement leaders in their field,” McClure said.

Over the years, Gowdy said he has watched Transylvania DPS become one of the top departments in the state among private colleges. He also described McClure as one of the best chiefs he’s worked for. “We currently have one of the best teams on staff in DPS that I have had the pleasure of working with over my years of service here at Transylvania.”