University adds criminal justice program for next year

By Jared Huhta

(Illustration by Leah Zink)

(Illustration by Leah Zink)

The university has established a new criminal justice program that will be available to students next year. The program offers a major or minor in criminal justice.

Members of the academic committee have discussed adding the program for a few years, but President Sherilyn Emberton stressed the importance of establishing it for next year, Del Doughty, Ph.D., interim vice president of academic affairs, said.

“It has a longer history than you would think,” he said. “Dr. Emberton arrived and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you have the criminal justice program?’ That’s all we needed to get going on it.”

Mary Ruthi, Ph.D., and other members of the social science department discussed what classes the major would include. Doughty said structuring the program wasn’t that difficult, considering the university already offers most of the classes needed for the major.

“It was a matter of packaging them the right way and adding two or three others,” he said.

Several psychology, sociology and social work courses will be part of the criminal justice program. Introduction to Law, taught by Jeff Webb, Ph.D., will expand to a 300-level course and new Introduction to Criminal Justice and Introduction to Corrections classes will serve as orientations to the whole field. Other new courses will address criminology and juvenile justice. An addictions course will be offered in spring 2014 for students who want to begin working toward the major or minor before next fall.

“Criminal justice is a field that potential students often inquire about, so we will be able to attract more of those students who otherwise might go elsewhere to find the major,” Ruthi said. “It will provide another option for current students who are undecided or thinking about changing their majors.”

The university joins Grace College, Taylor University and Indiana Wesleyan University among Christian schools with criminal justice programs. Doughty said prospective students would ask about criminal

justice at college fairs and then walk away from the university’s booth after learning the school didn’t offer it.

“We know that we have interest in the program,” Nate Perry, director of undergraduate admissions, said. “It will be our job to make sure and inform students that they can pursue the major at HU.”

Senior Megan Dean is excited about the program but wishes she could add criminal justice to her degree before she graduates in May.

“A criminal justice minor would have paired well with my social work major,” she said. “A lot of the clients we work with have a higher rate of criminal backgrounds. It would have complemented the major with the technicalities that are usually learned on the job.”

Doughty said the new program fits the university’s mission well.

“We have to figure out how to balance justice and compassion,” he said. “Those kind of situations really require someone who has the kind of educational skills and abilities that we provide here.”

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