Frank W. Budd's climb to the presidency of Salt Lake Community College didn't start in the usual places, although he's spent plenty of time in the classroom and behind a desk.

Twenty eight years ago, fresh out of the University of Redlands, Budd's office was a patrol car, his classroom the streets of his hometown, Redlands, Calif., and later Oceanside."In my job interview with the (Oceanside) chief of police, he said, `I see you're a college graduate,' " Budd remembered recently in his SLCC office.

"I said, `Yes, sir.' He said, `Do you like to fight?' I thought: What kind of question is that? I said, `I don't know if I like it, but I am a police officer right now so I know how to.' He said, `Good, because there is a lot of fighting that goes on in this town.' "

In his first night on the job, he set a frantic pace, seeing more activity in a few hours than he had in a month in middle-class Redlands, a community that promotes orange growing as its main industry. Oceanside, home to the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base, offered a different perspective on police work.Budd arrested 17 or 18 people, broke up a couple of fights, investigated several traffic accidents and chased a guy who stole a car - all in one night.

"It was an interesting life," he said of his start as a cop. "Day to day, you never knew what was going to happen. It called for judgment, training, sensitivity to others. Good police officers work well with people."

Budd, 49, who assumed the presidency of the state's fastest-growing college Jan. 1, came to SLCC from Southern California's Riverside Community College, where he has served as assistant superintendent and vice president for academic services since 1986. At SLCC, he replaced Orville D. Carnahan, who retired last year.

But the switch from a uniform and a badge to pinstriped suit was years in the making.

He stayed in Oceanside for three years, working as a patrolman, detective and patrol sergeant. But sociology classes that he had taken as a police officer piqued his interest, so he decided to leave law enforcement to get a master's degree in sociology.

Budd sold his house and moved his wife, Judy, and young baby to Provo, where he was a sociology teaching assistant at Brigham Young University while he pursued his degree.

It wasn't his first time at BYU. In 1959, he went to BYU as a non-Mormon on a football scholarship. He didn't like it. Like many college freshmen away from home for the first time, he was homesick.

"I called my parents and said, `Please, let me come home.' They said, `No, you're going to college.' I didn't go to college. I didn't go to classes. My academic record at BYU is kind of like a criminal record. It's not very good," he said.

He transferred to a community college at home. He later tried one more semester at BYU as an undergraduate, but he returned to California, where he settled at the University of Redlands, earning a bachelor's degree in physical education and biology in 1964. He eventually converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After receiving his graduate degree from BYU, Budd tried to stay in Utah, but there weren't any teaching opportunities.

He landed a job as a sociology instructor at Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Mich., and later moved on to teach and to develop law enforcement programs at Central Arizona College, Casa Grande, and Yavapai College, Prescott, Ariz.

Next came Riverside City College, where he was director of the administration of justice program, and Riverside Community College, where he had several administrative positions.

But ever since he left Utah in 1969, Budd longed to return, repeatedly scouring the want ads of The Chronicle of Higher Education for the right opening.

It was during one of his periodic checks with the office of the Utah Commissioner of Higher Education that he learned of the job that would bring him back to Utah after a 22-year absence.