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Change of command at WMPD

  • Departing chief
    Departing chief
    Don Challis has served as William & Mary Police chief since 2003.
    Photo by Mark Mitchell courtesy of the Alumni Association

There will be a change of command at the William & Mary Police Department (WMPD) next month. Police Chief Don Challis is leaving the university March 7 for a position at South Dakota State University (SDSU). Captain Ed Schardein will serve as acting chief until a new one can be named.

“Don has become an invaluable colleague in the William & Mary community,” said Anna Martin, vice president for administration. “While he will be missed, we know that he leaves the department in good hands.”

Challis, who came to William & Mary in 2003, has served the university as chief of police for just over a decade. During that time, the department has been restructured, gaining an expanded staff, new headquarters and new or strengthened relationships across the campus, region and state.

For Challis, an Iowa native, the move west is an opportunity to return home.

A 25-year veteran of law enforcement, Challis will serve as associate vice president for safety and security at SDSU. He came to Williamsburg from Chicago, where he was director of public safety at Northeastern Illinois University. Prior to his time in Illinois, he served as director of safety and security at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. Challis started his career at the University of Iowa in 1988.

“I can only hope for the same level of acceptance, cooperation and collegiality on the Great Plains of South Dakota that I have received at William & Mary,” Challis said. “While I would not wish this on my successor, my first day on campus was spent planning for Hurricane Isabel. I spent much of the following days ‘bunkered’ with the senior administrators of the College. Through that experience I learned a lot, in a very short time, about the unique culture of William & Mary. It would take 10 more years and my leaving to fully appreciate what a wonderful place this is and what a profound influence it has had on me and my family.”   

The chief has also actively engaged in the larger Williamsburg and Virginia communities. He has served as an executive board member of the Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Training Academy since 2009, a board member of the Hampton Roads Law Enforcement Information Exchange, a member of the Governor’s School and Campus Safety Committee and Mental Health Task Force and as past president of the Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

Additionally under Challis’s leadership, the College expanded its emergency operations procedures aligning them with National Incident Management System and Incident Command System guidelines.

“Don’s experience in emergency operations helped guide us to where we need to be in our emergency response protocols,” added Martin.  “His leadership, knowledge of law enforcement, unerring instincts and wonderful sense of humor will truly be missed.”

WMPD is a Virginia State certified police department charged with maintaining peace and enforcing Virginia law on the college’s 1,200 acre campus. In addition to its law enforcement responsibilities, the department provides a wide variety of educational programs to enhance the student experience.