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College of Criminal Justice to undergo deptartment split in Fall 2013

Staff Reporter

Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 00:12

College of Criminal Justice to undergo dept. split in Fall 2013

Samantha Villarreal | The Houstonian

SHSU FIRSTS. In 1970, the College of Criminal Justice at SHSU was one of the first to offer a Ph.D in Criminal Justice, and the first school in Texas to offer an Master of Science in Forensic Science.

The Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice will be split into three separate departments beginning in Fall of 2013 after the Texas State University System Board of Regents voted for the split in its quarterly meeting in November.

The CCJ will be split into departments of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Forensic Science and Security Studies.

The changes were made to accomodate a growing interest in CJ from students, among other reasons.

"There’s a couple reasons for it," Vincent Webb, Ph.D., Dean and Director of the Criminal Justice Center, said. "We cover a lot of different fields of study within the college, and some of those are connected and related to each other than others."

The department creation came through recommendation from Todd Clear, Ph.D., Dean of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, and Sally Simpson, Ph.D., professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Maryland, in an academic program review in 2010.

According to Webb, one reason for the new departments is to ease the process by which university faculty members are hired and evaluated.

Right now, the standards used in employee evaluations are the same for CJ and forensic science professors, even though their respective fields of study differ within the college. The creation of the three departments is designed to fix this issue.

"We [will] separate these out so they can prosper on their own," said Webb. "Although related to criminal justice, security studies has evolved in a way where there’s four or five sub-fields of study within security studies… They require different specialties, different training for faculty and the things that students are interested in."

Sarah Kerrigan, Ph.D., forensic science professor, will serve as the chair of the new forensic science department, while department chair positions for the other two departments are still open. According to Webb, the new department chair applications are being accepted from outside applicants as well as from within the College of Criminal Justice. All other new faculty will be the product of outside hires.

"All of the hiring that we’re doing is being done with existing resources," Webb said. "As we reorganized the college, we shifted deans around and so we didn’t really need the additional funding there, and we have vacant positions in the college and we’re using those positions for our hiring initiative. They’re not new faculty lines; they’re filling existing open positions."

In 1970, the College of CJ was one of the first to offer a Ph.D in Criminal Justice, and the first school in Texas to offer an Master of Science in Forensic Science.

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