Generosity in Action: Celebrating Our Donors’ Compassion and the Power of Their Contributions

Norman Brown (’79 BA Criminal Justice)

Norm Brown

Unlike many college students, Norman Brown knew before coming to WSU that he wanted a career in law enforcement. He also knew WSU had a good Criminal Justice program, and he chose WSU primarily for that.

While still in his senior year, Brown launched his dream profession by working each weekend as a cadet with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department. After graduating, he was promoted to deputy sheriff and then advanced within the department before embarking on a 25-year career with the FBI.

He now generously supports the Criminal Justice Program because of how fortunate he feels to have enjoyed a successful and satisfying career, which he attributes to his foundational WSU education.

“My WSU studies helped get my foot in the door at both the sheriff’s office and with the FBI,” Brown said. He wants other dedicated Criminal Justice majors to have similar opportunities, so he recently endowed the Norman C. Brown Criminal Justice Scholarship.

The impact is already being felt across the department, said Melanie-Angela Neuilly, chair. “We were able to award our first Norman C. Brown scholarship this spring to Citlaly Gomez-Ledezma, a much-deserving and high-performing student from a high school in eastern Washington.”

Gomez-Ledezma is a rising senior majoring in Criminal Justice and Criminology with a minor in psychology.

Brown highly values education in general and is proud of being a Coug—”particularly a Coug who majored in Criminal Justice,” he said.  

“I learned a lot in school because I was taking classes I wanted to take, primarily Criminal Justice classes and some in sociology and psychology. Criminal Justice was the program I wanted to be in from Day 1, and it turned out to be interesting and very helpful to my career.”

‘An exciting and good career’

Brown worked as a deputy sheriff and patrol officer with the Spokane Sheriff’s Office before being promoted to field training officer. Around 1987, he met an FBI agent who told him he was eligible to take the FBI exam—he scored higher than even he expected.

“I was single and hadn’t traveled much before, so I decided to go ahead and give the FBI a try,” he said.  After graduating from the FBI Academy, he was assigned duty in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where the bureau had begun investigating a violent offshoot of the white supremacist group Aryan Nation, accused of a host of crimes, including murder, kidnapping, bank robbery, armored car robbery, and counterfeiting.

“There were about 20 guys in the group, and they indicted over 20 people for various charges,” Brown said. “They needed help with arrests because they were known radicals, dangerous and heavily armed.” 

He then decided to try out for the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team. The selection process involved “two of the most demanding weeks of my life, both physically and mentally,” he said. After four years on the team, he tried-out and was selected for the FBI director’s security detail. In that capacity, he protected FBI Director William Sessions, whose love of travel took Brown to 25 states and seven countries in two years.

“I enjoyed seeing a lot of the world during that time that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise,” Brown said.

Two years later, he requested a transfer to Seattle where he investigated bank robberies and other violent crimes and led a surveillance squad team—similar to being an undercover agent.

In the latter part of his career, he transferred to Spokane and focused on terrorism and violent crime. He retired in 2012 as supervisor of a joint terrorism task force covering northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

While serving on the Hostage Rescue Team, he met and fell in love with a woman named Bernadette, who was then going through new FBI agent training. After they were married, they were able to transfer together to new posts across the country.

During his career, Brown received several incentive awards for successfully making arrests in an array of cases and, although he came close a few times, he never had to use deadly force in his job. He served 25 years in the FBI and would do it all over again, he said. “It was an exciting and good career.”

Tim Schellberg (’88 BA Poli. Sci.)

Tim Schellberg

When Tim Schellberg came to WSU in the mid-1980s, he thought he would like to work in the criminal justice field, perhaps as a policeman or a prosecutor. While taking courses in both Criminal Justice and political science, he learned not only about working in the field but also about problems and concerns within the field and efforts to address them.

“This opened my eyes to the idea that you are not limited to acting in the system or studying it, but you can work to change it,” Schellberg said. “We discussed current issues, such as the discovery of forensic DNA in 1984 (my sophomore year) and how it would change the way police investigate crimes, and the policies and laws that would need to change to implement these type of advancements in law enforcement. My curiosity about law enforcement policy led to my first job out of law school as the legal advisor and legislative liaison to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.”

Now president and founder of government relations firm GTH Consulting, Schellberg is giving back to WSU by supporting students and faculty in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology who are involved in developing data and research for use by federal, state, and local policymakers to assist them in making objective, fact-based decisions related to policing and public safety across the United States.

The Schellberg Family Law Enforcement Public Development Fund has provided critical support for graduate research assistants as well as enabling graduate and undergraduate students to work on data quality and analysis in the Complex Social Interactions Laboratory and related equipment updates.

“It is quite easy to trace my career back to WSU,” said Schellberg, who was honored with the Outstanding Criminal Justice Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008.

Managing a company focused on government relations and public policy, he is often asked how he  got involved in the field, Schellberg said. “The answer is WSU student government.” 

Being part of the ASWSU (Associated Students of Washington State University) introduced him to government relations and provided an internship to work in Olympia during the state legislative session. “WSU’s student organizations are an essential component of how WSU provides opportunities to its student body and one of the reasons I enjoy supporting WSU,” he said.

Schellberg’s interest in forensic DNA—which he first learned about in his WSU Criminal Justice classes—ultimately led to development of another GTH Consulting company, called GTH DNA. In this firm, a team of international consultants work to advance forensic DNA policy globally.

For the last 20 years, GTH Consulting has worked internationally on legislative and policy issues related to public security. “A notable observation I have made during this work is that governments overseas, particularly in Europe, rely heavily on academic research in the development of law enforcement legislation and policy. It is my hope that our governments in the United States (state, local and national) will increase their reliance on academic research, and less on politics,” Schellberg said.

“I hope the resources of the endowment can be used by the Criminal Justice Department to become more involved with policymakers, and that it will allow the Department to pursue more research projects that are relevant to current legislative policy debates. If timely and relevant research can be completed, it will have the positive effect of causing policymakers to pass more laws based on data and less on politics.”

“WSU’s academic programs encouraged me to think creatively about my career choices, which is another reason I support WSU.”

Shellberg said he believes WSU’s Criminal Justice program is “advancing in a very positive way.”

“The chair, Professor Melanie Neuilly, is a respected leader and has a strong vision for the department. And Professor David Makin is leading the department into a significant and important state data service project that is the largest such project in the history of the Criminal Justice program. Lots to be excited about—and the students will benefit from the many advancements in the department.”