Message from the Chair

Melanie-Angela Neuilly, Associate Professor and Department chair. smiling.
Melanie-Angela Neuilly, Chair and Associate Professor

Welcome to Criminal Justice News!

The WSU Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology was granted independent department status within the University in the fall of 2011. While it had been independent before, and continually graduated students under one banner or another since 1943 (making it one of the longest-serving such units in the country), the 10-year milestone our department reached last fall was worth celebrating all year long—especially after two years of pandemic restrictions. In October 2021, we hosted an open house event, where we welcomed everyone to our still new-ish accommodations in Wilson-Short Hall. A number of our undergraduate alumni came to visit, including Lynn Pochert, class of 1964! Then we celebrated with several of our graduate alumni at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) annual meeting in Las Vegas. To round out the year of celebrations, we enjoyed seeing everyone in person again during our first post-pandemic awards ceremony in April.

Whether we are standing at 10 years old, or at 79 years old (might that mean another big celebration is in our near future?), our students, alumni, faculty, and staff are still what makes us who we are. This year, we graduated 146 majors, 110 minors, 6 master’s, and 5 PhD students. We are so proud of their accomplishments and what they will bring forth in the world as Cougs.

This year, we also welcomed two new faculty members: assistant professors Arifa Raza and Hillary Mellinger. Already, our new colleagues are distinguishing themselves, with Mellinger giving an invited presentation last fall at Beloit College and receiving both the Greg and Beth Pierce Faculty Award through the Department and a Research Enhancement Opportunity grant through the College of Arts and Sciences this spring. This will allow her to submit a grant proposal to the National Science Foundation this summer. Raza received a prestigious and nationally competitive Ford Fellowship Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2022-2023, which will allow her to complete her book project: Immigration, and Inhuman Rights: Central American Migration and the Laws of Survival.

Our students are our pride and joy, and whether current or alumni, we love celebrating their successes and sharing their expertise. For example, undergraduate Daisy Yang was awarded the WSU Undergraduate Research Award this year for her work with David Makin, associate professor, at the Complex Social Interactions Lab. Yang was the first Criminal Justice and Criminology undergraduate major to receive this great honor at the University. We look forward to many more such awards for our students in the future!

In March, we were lucky to have alumnus Tim Schellberg (BA 1988) come and present his work on DNA databases and their use in the identification of suspects. Tim is a long-time supporter of the Department and he renewed his commitment this year with dedicating even more of his resources to the Complex Social Interactions Lab, and specifically funding the lab manager position during the summer to allow the work to continue uninterrupted, independent of the academic schedule. Having Tim visit the lab this fall and return in the spring for a talk was such a treat. Thank you, Tim! And thank you to all our alumni who support us and represent WSU out there in the world. If you are interested in learning more about the ways in which you can support us, please see I Want To Give.

This year, our faculty was again celebrated for its many accomplishments. Of note, Mary Stohr, professor, received the ACJS Division of Corrections’ John Howard Award, and Craig Hemmens, professor, was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences 2022 Distinguished Faculty Award.

Finally, we bid farewell and good luck to our dear María Rebeca Orozco this spring. After serving as the Department’s Graduate Program Coordinator for the last five years, she is moving on to other exciting adventures. To help fill the giant hole Rebeca leaves in the Department and our hearts, we welcomed Danielle Makin into the role. She started this June and we look forward to working with her in the position.

As we prepare to enter our second decade while simultaneously turning 80, we have quite a few projects up our sleeves, which I look forward to sharing with you all soon. It sure promises to be an exciting year ahead. In the meantime, we hope you all enjoy your summer!

Melanie-Angela Neuilly

Chair and Associate Professor