UT will celebrate graduates during spring commencement ceremonies this weekend. We take the opportunity to recognize UTPD Officer Tony Dillard who recently earned a master’s degree in corporate communications from Austin Peay University.
An adult learner, he achieved this accomplishment while balancing work and family responsibilities.
Dillard is assigned to UTPD’s Community Relations Unit, which is responsible for the creation and delivery of outreach and educational programs to the campus community.
Prior to his career in law enforcement, Dillard worked in retail management and earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast media with a minor in management. His master’s degree builds upon that work. He added that he has applied concepts from his master’s program to his role in the Community Relations Unit.
He has used his organizational communication skills in helping produce UTPD’s internal Operations Bulletin. This spring, he also coordinated the experiences of several departmental interns.
“As part of my professional development, I worked with our interns to update and redefine UTPD programming with the goal of developing strategically sound ways to positively engage our campus population,” he said.
Through the master’s degree, Dillard saw how the core competencies an effective law enforcement leader embodies parallel those of a successful leader in the private sector.
“When speaking with people I often joke that retail is just like law enforcement except that in law enforcement we can talk back, and we may have to take physical action,” he said. “Our communities are our employers and they expect us to deliver exceptional service with respect.”
Dillard’s UT benefits played a significant role in his decision to pursue the degree. As a full time university employee, he could use his tuition fee waiver at any state-supported university, and in his case, he chose Austin Peay.
Managing the work-life-school balance took a great deal of planning.
“I realized early on that I had to plan at least a month in advance. That plan included some really long days, bookended by a day or two of rest,” Dillard said. “Sometimes the rest day was centered on family or friends. Other times it would simply be a day that I could sleep in or just lay around on the couch and zone out.”