After almost 40 years of experience in politics, safety and security, Paul Tschida, the University’s assistant vice president for the Department of Health, Safety and Transportation, will retire at the end of June.
“This isn’t early retirement,” said Tschida, who turns 65 today. “This is really retirement.”
Tschida’s career is marked by many years of service in the public and private sectors of safety and security, including his eight-year stint at the University.
After graduating from the University Law School in 1960, Tschida became an FBI agent, a career move that lasted nine years.
A typical workday included chasing alleged spies through Los Angeles, Chicago or Washington, D.C., among a host of other cities, Tschida said.
“It was like adults playing kids’ games,” he said, “but it was fun.”
In 1969, Tschida married and moved back to Minnesota, where he served as a volunteer coordinator for Hubert H. Humphrey’s 1970 national senatorial campaign.
After the campaign failed, Tschida decided legislative politics was not his game. In 1971, he became the assistant attorney general of Minnesota, a position he held for four years.
Over the next 15 years, Tschida held positions such as superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, director of security at Dayton’s Department Stores and Minnesota commissioner of public safety.
Rina McManus, who worked alongside Tschida as deputy commissioner of public safety during the 1980s, said his gentility and sense of humor compounded his extensive professional background.
“His decision-making was always in the best interests of programs carrying out our public mandates,” McManus said. “But he was also a gentleman and he was respectful of others. I considered it my fortune to be paired with a person of his caliber.”
After years of hectic schedules and traveling, Tschida decided to return to his roots by working at the University.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” he said. “It was a little late to start practicing law.”
In 1991, the University hired Tschida as the acting director for campus safety and security. A year later he was named the assistant vice president of campus health and safety.
In this position, Tschida made several changes to the department, such as placing a stronger emphasis on campus health inspections. He also initiated the merging of three units — Parking and Transportation Services, the University Police Department and the Department of Environmental Health — into the Department of Health and Safety. The merger changed his title to the assistant vice president for the Department of Health, Safety and Transportation.
University Police Chief Joy Rikala said she will miss Tschida’s professional insight and knowledge.
“I would characterize him as one of the most highly respected safety leaders in the state,” said Rikala, who worked with Tschida at the state Criminal Bureau of Apprehension during the 1970s. “He is always full of vision.”
Tschida said he will take advantage of his newfound freedom by reading, writing and researching union conflicts in industrial settings, an interest fueled by his involvement in the Hormel Plant strike in 1987.
Although this is the first extended vacation for Tschida in more than 40 years, he reflects on his career with satisfaction.
“I’ll not regret it,” Tschida said. “It was a great experience.”