Campus Life

Sowerby to retire after 35 years of service with Penn State police

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After 35 years of service to Penn State, University Police Deputy Chief Tom Sowerby will retire Sept. 30. His retirement is the culmination of a long career with University Police and Public Safety (UPPS), which includes serving as deputy chief and commander of the University Park police station and most recently leading the department's University-wide Criminal Investigations Unit that serves 22 Penn State campuses.

Deputy Chief Tom Sowerby Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

“Deputy Chief Sowerby has been a department leader and influencer for decades, while also helping to develop close working relationships with local, state and federal partners,” said Charlie Noffsinger, associate vice president of UPPS. “I am grateful for Tom’s dedication to the safety of Penn State students, employees and visitors over the last 35 years, and our entire department wishes him well on this next chapter.”

Joining the department in 1986 as a patrol officer, Sowerby earned the rank of lieutenant in 2000, became assistant police chief in 2007, and earned the title of deputy chief in 2011. Sowerby earned a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice at Penn State in 1983. Penn State then hired Sowerby and sponsored his attendance at the Indiana University Police Academy.

“I was looking for an opportunity in law enforcement and Penn State was one of my top choices,” Sowerby said. “I loved the opportunities and professional standards that the department and the University afforded me.”

One of the most memorable incidents Sowerby responded to during his career was also one of his first. In December 1986, Sowerby worked the midnight celebration of the Penn State football team's victory over the Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl to claim the national championship. 

“The excitement in town was something that I had never experienced,” Sowerby said. “The event provided an excellent foundation in what was to come in both managing and preparing for celebrations, demonstrations, rallies and crowds both on campus and in the Borough of State College.”

Sowerby will not soon forget several other incidents from his career, such as the 1996 shooting on the HUB lawn, theft investigations, and situations involving students, some of which were positive and some that were unfortunately sad events.

The most rewarding part of the job for Sowerby was “the camaraderie with my peers, the unpredictability of the work, and the ability to help individuals in situations when they need some understanding and compassion.”

What Sowerby will miss the most is being able to help solve or find solutions to a variety of situations and the collaborative process used to help resolve or lessen the impact of the situation.

In retirement, Sowerby plans to spend more time traveling with his wife, Terri, along with friends and family. He also plans to stay active with basketball, golf, pickleball and yoga.

“Penn State and Centre County is a wonderful place to live, work and learn,” Sowerby said. “It has been a privilege to work for such a progressive and professional University and police and public safety organization with an extremely dedicated and professional workforce.”

Last Updated September 24, 2021