Meet a Retriever—Ron Pettie ’82, retired police officer and true Retriever Believer

Published: May 13, 2024

Ron Pettie and his family at Homecoming 2022.
Ron and his family at Homecoming 2022.
Meet Ron Pettie. Ron is a retired Baltimore City police officer and a loyal Retriever alumnus, graduating with a B.A. in English in 1982. When he’s not writing postcards to incoming UMBC students, commenting on UMBC Alumni Association Facebook posts, or attending alumni events, Ron can be found spending time with his wife Christine. Ron’s path in life may not have always gone according to plan, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Take it away, Ron!

Q: What’s one essential thing you’d want another Retriever to know about you?

A: I am a true believer that education is priceless. I arrived at UMBC after receiving a top-notch education in the Baltimore City Public School System. I had the intention of working in engineering as a career, but at the end of my time at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Mr. Karl Yount led me to truly appreciate the English language. So, I set another goal to become an English teacher at Poly. I attended Catonsville Community and obtained an associate’s degree before moving on to UMBC to study English and focus on my goal. Well, fast-forward a few years later and I became a cop in Baltimore City, where I worked for 27 years before retiring as a sergeant. Here is where education became important. In the Baltimore City Police Department, I worked patrol, recruitment, applicant investigation, administrative sgt. to the major, medical abuse investigator, OSHA, Red Cross, and worker’s compensation liaison.

After retiring from the police department, I worked for another 10 years in security at Sinai Hospital before retiring as a lieutenant. I have seen the best and the worst in people. These days, I am officially retired and parenting two youngsters with my wife Christine.

Pictured right: Ron at Homecoming 2022 positing with a cutout of True Grit.

Ron Pettie '82, English, at Homecoming 2022.

Q: What’s the one thing you’d want someone who hasn’t joined the UMBC community to know about the support you find here?

A: UMBC is truly an all-inclusive, friendly, and down-to-earth place.

I still get chills every time I walk into the Albin O. Kuhn Library.

Ron Pettie ’82

Q: Tell us about someone in the community who has inspired you or supported you, and how they did it.

A: My folks got me to college. The costs were a lot different back then. I bought my books myself, but my parents made it all possible. I also had the fortune of learning from some wonderful educators, including Ms. Barbara Dunsen, my 5th-grade teacher. We are good friends to this day. Ms. Dunsen, along with Carolyn Freeland, integrated the teaching staff at #226. I can’t forget Mr. Bachman and Karl Yount who poured the English language out to me. Then there’s UMBC…William Bettridge, Philip Landon, Kenneth Baldwin, Joan Korenman, William Edinger, Elizabeth Ermarth, and J. Leeds Barroll. So many folks were such great influences! I met some amazing educators and every one of my English professors had a knack for pushing me. There was also a group of English majors that ate lunch together, talked about lectures, compared books, and helped each other throughout our time at UMBC.

Left: Ron and Christine Pettie with UMBC president emeritus, Freeman A. Hrabowski, III. Right: Ron and Christine Pettie with UMBC President Valerie Sheares Ashby.

Q: What is your WHY? What brought you to UMBC?

A: I came to UMBC because I had heard there was a level of difficulty and I wanted to continue the challenges from Poly.

Q: What’s something you love about your academic program?

A: I have always loved writing. Now that I have time, I have recently rekindled my love of writing and started revisiting works from decades ago.

Ron Pettie '82, English, and Christine Pettie at UMBC's 50th anniversary celebration.
Ron and Christine Pettie at UMBC’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Q: What’s your favorite part of being a part of Retriever Nation?

A: There’s always something big at UMBC. What can I say…I enjoy visiting campus for events—especially Homecoming—hitting the bookstore for UMBC gear, catching shows at the Performing Arts and Humanities Building, and celebrating UMBC every chance I get.

Q: What drives you to support UMBC?

A: I give as much as I can and mostly throw my support to the English Department…but spread it out as well.

* * * * *

UMBC’s greatest strength is its people. When people meet Retrievers and hear about the passion they bring, the relationships they create, the ways they support each other, and the commitment they have to inclusive excellence, they truly get a sense of our community. That’s what “Meet a Retriever” is all about.

Learn more about how UMBC can help you achieve your goals.


Scroll to Top