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University of Tennessee Police Chief Ed Yovella will retire March 31 after serving the university for more than 37 years.

Retiring UT Police Chief Ed Yovella

Born and reared in Lake City, Tenn., Yovella began his university career in Oct. 1967.

“After I got out of the Marine Corps, I applied to a police department in Maryland,” he said. “I worked there for three years, got homesick and decided to come back to Tennessee.”

Yovella returned to his native Tennessee with the hopes of getting a job as a local police officer.

“I thought it would be relatively easy to find a job here, but it turned out that in most places you had to have been a resident for a certain amount of time to qualify.”

In the end, he was able to go to work at UT.

“Someone told me I should try to get on at the university,” Yovella said. “I didn’t even know there were police departments at universities.”

Yovella says that every day on the job holds good moments for him, but one day in particular stood out.

“The day that President Ronald Reagan visited UT was one of the high points of my career. Everything turned out well, and it was a pleasure to have the president see Knoxville and our campus.”

Assistant Police Chief Deborah Perry said the whole department is sad to see him go, but happy for his new opportunities.

“He has a lot of compassion for his people and he shows that in his decision-making,” Perry said. “He gets the job done, but he really takes his employees’ concerns into account.

“We hate to see him go. We’re all going to miss him very much.”

“Ed Yovella has overseen law enforcement and security for the Knoxville campus for many years, and we are grateful for his service,” UT-Knoxville Chancellor Loren Crabtree said.

“His calm presence and leadership set a wonderful example for the future.”

“Yovella is highly respected by his staff and the local and state law enforcement communities,” Philip Scheurer, UT vice president for operations, said.

A national search has been launched to replace him, Scheurer said.

Yovella said he’s leaving UT to help his wife manage a recently purchased campground. “It requires a lot of upkeep. When I leave here, I’ll have almost a full-time job.”