The Spring semester marks the end of my term as Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. During the semester, we will be rapidly transitioning to Craig Hemmens taking over as Chair. With his wealth of experience, brilliance, common sense, and work ethic, I have no doubt he will do a great job leading us for years to come.
Looking back, I’m extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish during my four years as Chair. When I took the job of Director of the Criminal Justice Program during the Spring of 2010, I had three primary goals: 1) Stabilize the faculty after years of comings and goings; 2) Grow our doctoral program both in size and quality; and 3) Transform us from a program housed in a department to an independent department respected across WSU and by other criminal justice departments across the nation. Not only have we achieved these goals, we have used them to propel us into a trajectory of sustained growth and excellence.
You might recall in 2010 WSU imposed draconian budget cuts across the university and vowed to redistribute resources to promote excellent programs. Rather than being crippled by these cuts, we viewed them as an opportunity. By demonstrating our excellence to administrators using many metrics, as well as being patient and aggressively seizing opportunities when they presented themselves, we as a unit were able to thrive and bring about amazing achievements.
Over the past four years we hired eight new faculty while having only one leave WSU. These eight professors, all of which are great scholars, teachers and people, doubled the size of our faculty on both the Pullman and Spokane campuses as well as for the department as a whole. We now have 14 professors across three campuses.
During this time period, we also tripled the number of funded graduate students (25 in 2013-14) and doubled the number of criminal justice majors (over 500). We increased our external grant and contract support more than ten-fold, and added 15 new courses to the graduate curriculum. We developed a newsletter, created an institute, developed graduate and undergraduate assessment programs, established an advisory committee, assumed control of criminal justice internships, and had multiple faculty members win college, campus, and university awards for excellence. Most important of all, we became an independent department.
Thanks to all of you for your efforts in making these things happen. Although I was chair when we achieved these accomplishments, my role in many of their fruition was minor, with credit belonging to our remarkable faculty, graduate students, and staff who did the heavy lifting. Without their willingness to go above and beyond what should be expected of them in service to the department, we would assuredly be a program housed in a school or department instead of the vibrant department we are and will continue to be.
Apart from the other benefits of no longer being Chair, passing the torch to Craig allows me to rejoin the faculty in Spokane and focus on my research and work with graduate students in Pullman and Spokane. I will also continue to actively advance the interests of our department, student, alumni, and research partners under Craig’s leadership.