Celebrating 50 Years of Serving: Leading Academia in the Field

Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences logo

Many scholars from the College of Criminal Justice have risen to the top of their fields as educators, researchers, policy analysts and practitioners. One of the pinnacles in academia is the Academy of Criminal Justice Science (ACJS), and 10 faculty or former students have served as President of this leading institution.

Since ACJS was founded in 1963, it has led the way in disseminating ideas on research, policing, education and practice within the field. Among those from the College who contributed to its success are:

  • Former Dean Dr. Richard Ward (1977-78)
  • Faculty Member Larry T. Hoover (1982-83)
  • Ph.D. Graduate R. Paul McCauley (1985-86)
  • Ph.D. Graduate Larry Gaines (1988-89)
  • Former Dean Vincent Webb (1990-91)
  • Ph.D. Graduate Laura J. Moriarty (2005-06)
  • Ph.D. Graduate Jeffery T. Walker (2006-07)
  • Former Associate Dean Wesley Johnson (2008-09)
  • Ph.D. Graduate Craig Hemmens (2012-13)

SHSU Alumnus Dr. Craig Hemmens (center) led the ACJS during its 50th Anniversary celebration.
SHSU Alumnus Dr. Craig Hemmens (center) led the ACJS during its 50th Anniversary celebration.
“I think Sam has always had an outstanding reputation in the field as exemplified by the number of Sam people who have been elected to key ACJS positions,” said Dr. Gaines.

Each representative from Sam Houston State University has left a own unique, indelible mark on the organization.

Dr. Ward led ACJS as it evolved into a premiere scholarly association, emphasizing the importance of research and publications. During his tenure, Dr. Ward also served as Executive Director of the Joint Commission on Criminology and Criminal Justice, a federally funded project that brought together members from ACJS and the American Society of Criminology, the other leading academic association in the field, to establish guidelines for the future. Dr. Ward also focused on recruiting women and minority members.

Dr. Richard H. Ward, 1977-78
Dr. Richard H. Ward, 1977-78
“Over 40 years, I have missed only one or two ACJS meetings, and it is the organization that I look to for new faculty and new ideas,” said Dr. Ward, who passed away in February while serving as Doctoral Program Director and Assistant Vice President for Special Programs Sponsored Research at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. “Much satisfaction comes each year as I meet former students who are making significant contributions to the field.”

Dr. Ward also said that ACJS helped propel SHSU internationally.

“SHSU is now a globally recognized institution that draws students from all over the country and the world,” he said. “It has made important contributions in higher education, the education of practitioners, and in contributing to the development of the field of criminal justice as a discipline…A number of faculty and Ph.D. graduates have played key roles in fostering new programs and research areas.”

Faculty member Dr. Larry Hoover, 1982-83
Faculty member Dr. Larry Hoover, 1982-83
Faculty member Dr. Larry Hoover, 1982-83Dr. Hoover, a professor at Sam Houston State University, was a faculty member at the College of Criminal Justice during his ACJS presidency. He is credited with launching Justice Quarterly (JQ), one of the top-rated, peer-reviewed journals in the field. The publication is now in its 32nd year.

“ACJS contributes to the development of a knowledge base in criminal justice through its two respected journals, Justice Quarterly and Journal of Criminal Justice Education; through the wide and rich range of panels at the annual meeting; through programs to improve teaching; and through efforts to link academics and practitioners,” said Dr. Hoover.

R. Paul McCauley was the first student at the College of Criminal Justice to receive his Doctorate of Criminal Justice (which was later changed to a Ph.D.). That year, Dr. McCauley became an Assistant Professor at the University of Louisville and joined ACJS.

Ph.D. Graduate R. Paul McCauley, 1985-86
Ph.D. Graduate R. Paul McCauley, 1985-86
When he was installed as president, the dominant issue was the selection of an editor for Justice Quarterly. “This was a heated and an emotional issue with the membership--polarizing into political,” Dr. McCauley, a professor in the Criminology Department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Dr. McCauley, too, sees a connection between ACJS and SHSU.

“From my perspective SHSU is a very reputable institution as is its doctoral degree and its graduates have made and continue to make substantial contributions to academe and to the professions,” said Dr. McCauley. “In many ways SHSU and ACJS are linked and they both continue to provide substantial contributions to academe and to the professions.”

Dr. Gaines had one primary objective while on the Executive Board of ACJS: to create sections, similar to the American Psychological Association, to increase membership and foster more research. The organization now boasts a dozen specialized sections, including Community College; Corrections; Critical Criminal Justice; International; Juvenile Justice; Law and Public Policy; Minorities and Women; Police; Restorative and Community Justice; Security and Crime Prevention; Teaching, Learning and Scholarship and Victimology.

SHSU Ph.D. Graduate Dr. Larry Gaines, 1988-89
SHSU Ph.D. Graduate Dr. Larry Gaines, 1988-89
“I believe ACJS began as a policy-oriented organization, although there was a significant amount of theory testing published in JQ,” said Dr. Gaines, Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at California State University – San Bernardino. “I believe ACJS has had a positive and significant effect on its members and institutions. It created a network that facilitated the exchange of information about the field and research. The organization helped to mature criminal justice curriculum, a process that continues today. And, the organization helped to provide leadership and direction in the academic field.”

Dr. Walker tackled three critical issues in the discipline and ACJS during his presidency: recruiting doctoral students, promoting international participation and collaboration and improving the quality of the ACJS conference.

“I think my biggest accomplishment while I was President was helping doctoral students become more engaged in ACJS through lower membership fees and participation on committees,” said Dr. Walker, Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

SHSU Ph.D. Graduate Dr. Jeffery T. Walker, 2006-07
SHSU Ph.D. Graduate Dr. Jeffery T. Walker, 2006-07
Dr. Walker said SHSU continues to be ranked among the top criminal justice colleges in the country.

“SHSU is my academic home,” Dr. Walker said. “It where I learned how to think, where I learned how to do research, where I learned how to write, and where I learned how to be an academic.”
As President, Dr. Johnson established the ACJS program certification process and professionalized the office and operations by hiring the first Executive Director, establishing a national office, and staffing the organization.

Former Associate Dean Wesley Johnson, 2008-09
Former Associate Dean Wesley Johnson, 2008-09
“It was an honor to serve as both a faculty member and an administrator at SHSU’s CCJ and as President of the ACJS,” said Dr. Johnson, Doctoral Coordinator for the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Southern Mississippi. “My election to the ACJS presidency was made possible via the support of the extensive SHSU CCJ alumni network. Certainly becoming the President of ACJS was a hallmark of my career and was important in enhancing perceptions of the CCJ and SHSU both nationally and internationally."

Dr. Hemmens joined ACJS as a graduate student at SHSU. As president, he ushered in the agency’s 50th anniversary celebration and documented its history. He said that the organization has had a huge impact on the field and on him personally.

“(It’s) significant to the field in that it brings academics together to discuss research and teaching and provides tremendous career development opportunities for faculty, from junior to senior level,” said Dr. Hemmens. “Its effect on me incalculable -- (I) met people whose work I admired, met people I did research with, was involved in the sections that introduced me to like-minded scholars -- and serving on the executive board gave me a chance to give back to the organization and discipline.”
Ph.D. Graduate Craig Hemmens 2012-13
Ph.D. Graduate Craig Hemmens, 2012-13
Dr. Johnson said SHSU and ACJS have opened many doors for him.

“I traveled the globe representing ACJS, SHSU and the CCJ. I met prime ministers, police officers, judges, students, and justice officials in over 10 countries,” said Dr. Johnson. “I will never know how my life might have been different had I not been chosen to work at SHSU. I do know that my experiences allowed me and so many others bloom and prosperous…and for that I am humbled and will be forever grateful. SHSU and the CCJ will always hold a special place in my life and in my heart.”

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