Larry Dean Wallace

Just when a married policeman with kids thought he’d never go to college, Cleveland State stepped in.

It was the late 1960s. The Vietnam War was raging, labor strikes threatened the nation’s economy, civil rights protests challenged long-held beliefs and the drug revolution was in full effect. In the middle of it all, Larry Dean Wallace was married to his wife, Katie, had two children and was a Tennessee State Trooper.

He thought he had it all, until a new law opened a door he never considered walking through. A door he’d not considered even once—before or after graduating from McMinn County High School in 1962.

“The law made it possible for police officers to attend community college for free with a five-year guarantee of police service afterward,” Larry says. “I couldn’t go to college otherwise, so I took advantage of it.”

Just the Start

Once given the chance to further his education, Larry made the most of it. From one of his first English classes, during which a teacher gave him a D- for a paper that was “something a cop would write” to when he earned his CSCC degree in law enforcement in 1973, Larry remembers his CSCC experience fondly.

He enjoyed his time at college so much that he eventually went on to complete his criminal justice bachelor’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University in 1985 and his master’s from Tennessee State University in criminal justice administration.

Since joining the Athens Police Department in 1964, Larry has protected and served forty years. Three years were with the Athens Police Department, four were as Sheriff of McMinn County, fourteen as a Tennessee Highway Patrolman and twenty were with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. He held the rank of Colonel Commanding Officer with the THP for six years and was Director of the TBI for nearly a dozen.

Still Going Strong

Once he decided to retire, others saw an opportunity to make use of his considerable talents and experience. Tennessee Wesleyan University decided to start a criminal justice program, and administrators asked Larry to create the curriculum and teach a class during the first semester of the program. That turned into a three-year teaching stint and eight more years as the college’s Senior Vice President. Once he retired from Wesleyan, Larry was called upon by the City of Cleveland to serve as a consultant for easing tension in the Cleveland Police Department and hiring the City’s current Police Chief, Mark Gibson. He was also integral in finding Cleveland’s new City Manager, Joe Fivas.

Even with these accomplishments, the father of three, grandfather of five and great-grandfather to one says it couldn’t have happened without Cleveland State. And while he readily admits that the college provides a quality education, Larry insists CSCC specializes in something else.

“Cleveland State offers opportunities,” he says. “CSCC gave me the opportunity to have a good, rewarding career I could never have had.”