Daily Journal and University Communications reports
University Police Chief Calvin Sellers will retire May 31, closing the books on a more-than-30-year career in law enforcement that included leading efforts here to become the safest school in the Southeastern Conference and one of the safest in the country.
Sellers, 62, of Oxford, plans to spend more time reading, golfing and skeet shooting. He wants to ride his Harley-Davidson up the Pacific Coast. He’s also engaged to be married to Mary Watts, a local nurse. Though he has many plans for retirement, leaving UM won’t be easy, he said.
“You know, it’s not a place you can just walk away from,” Sellers said. “That’s going to be the hardest part, I think. Coming to work every day is not hard. Not coming to work every day is not going to be the problem, but not being involved in something that you care so much about – the department and the university. That’s going to be difficult.”
Sellers prides himself on having built a diverse department of officers, who play a large role in crime prevention through educating students about safety. He also leads efforts to keep campus safe during many high-profile events such as the 2008 presidential debate, concerts and many big-time sporting events. Being at those events also allowed him to meet many famous musicians, writers and athletes during his 25 years as an Ole Miss officer.
Sellers began his career in law enforcement as a Water Valley police officer, and while working as a University Police Department officer, he completed a degree – going to school in the day and patrolling overnight. His first post as police chief was at Mississippi University for Women.
The 2008 presidential debate was a highlight of Sellers’ career, he said, along with meeting such celebrities as bluesman B.B. King, writers Stephen King and John Grisham, governors Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal, and then-Senator Barack Obama.
Some negative incidents, including a suicide and a particularly brutal rape case, have furnished other intense times. Racial incidents have drawn the most attention.
“The one with the Meredith statue probably got me interviewed by more people and more different agencies,” he said. “It’s just something about Ole Miss and a racial issue that makes CNN.
“When we’ve had these incidents, being a police chief is kind of like being a member of the media. You try to stay separate from that and not let your feelings about it get caught up in the situation when something terrible has happened here.”
Sellers has been intentional in creating a diverse police force for the diverse campus.
“I think that our department probably has more African-Americans in leadership positions than any department around,” he said. “We (also) have more females in leadership positions.”
Sellers said his people are “the best” and points to Ole Miss’ ranking during his tenure as Mississippi’s and the Southeastern Conference’s safest campus as well as the Top 10 Safest Campuses in America at times.
“That’s not a personal accomplishment. That’s the department’s accomplishment and that’s because I have a group so dedicated to our purpose,” he said.