Message from the Chair

Melanie-Angela Neuilly.
Melanie-Angela Neuilly

Welcome to Criminal Justice News!

Spring 2023

Our students and faculty showcased their amazing talents and resilience this spring semester, and we were proud to graduate 113 Criminal Justice and Criminology seniors along with 40 second majors and minors on the Pullman and Global campuses. We are also proud of our three graduating PhDs and our three graduating MAs, two of whom will rejoin us this fall as PhD students. Congratulations to all—you make us proud, spreading the Cougar spirit throughout the nation and the world.

Speaking of spreading the Cougar spirit around the world, we resumed our spring break study abroad program this spring. From March 11 through the 19, I had the joy of taking 13 undergraduate students to London for a truly unique experiential learning opportunity. Last summer was our first time back at it since we had to cancel our Spring Break 2020 program due to the pandemic, so, this spring, things really felt like we were back to our old routine. This program has been a wonderful highlight to my experience as a teacher, and I truly believe that it makes for a once- (and sometimes twice-, as we’ve had several repeat this course) in-a-lifetime learning opportunity for our students.

Experiential learning opportunities are a cornerstone of our educational philosophy here in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. Whether it is our Criminal Justice Study Abroad program, our Complex Social Interactions Lab and other internship opportunities, or the ways in which our faculty engage our undergraduates in research, we make it our mission to get our students involved with some sort of firsthand learning experience during their time at WSU. This summer, we are taking this mission to the next level! Professors Willits and Makin are preparing to host six students from all over the country, as well as three of our own, for a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates. The students, housed on campus and compensated for their travel and lodging expenses, will get to learn about the Complex Social Interactions (CSI) lab and gain invaluable research experience.

Our experiential learning opportunities are not just our pedagogy of choice but they earn recognition University-wide. Our current students’ work with the CSI laboratory was recognized once again this year through two SURCA awards, and Prof. Makin’s work in the lab and beyond was recognized through a President’s Award for Leadership as well as an Honors Faculty Award. We are proud of these accomplishments and the many others of our faculty and staff.

Spring 2023 was probably the hardest semester for the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology in its 82 years of existence. Our students, staff, and faculty have gone through what only very few can relate to. While our struggles are far from over, we are ever so thankful to our Cougar community for your support as we navigate these uncharted waters. We are also looking forward to continue healing together by resuming normal activities.

Indeed, we could not do everything that we do for our undergraduate and graduate students without our amazing faculty. This spring, it is my pleasure to share with you all that Professor Pedneault was granted tenure and promoted to the rank of associate professor, and Professor Snyder was granted promotion to the rank of associate teaching professor, career track. Please join me in congratulating both of them on their achievement.

It has been three years since I had the honor of becoming chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, and this spring, I was honored to be selected again by our faculty to serve another term. Being chair is not the easiest job there is in a university, but it definitely is one of great importance and one I have learned and grown from. While I very much look forward to serving another term and continue growing in the role, I humbly requested and was granted professional leave for the academic year 2023-2024. This will allow me the unique opportunity of relocating my family to France for a research project. None of this would be possible without the support of our college dean, Todd Butler, and of our faculty. I am particularly thankful to Prof. Dale Willits, who was selected and agreed to serve as interim chair next year. I know the department will be in great hands.

Finally, we wanted to highlight some deeply appreciated contributions from our alumni and friends to our successes. This semester, we showcase the incredible impact that Tim Schellberg (’79 BA Criminal Justice) and Norm Brown (’88 BA Poli. Sci.) have had on our students and our department. Tim and Norm are only two of the many of you who make it possible for us to make a difference in the world of criminal justice education. So thank you to all!

Melanie-Angela Neuilly
Chair and Associate Professor