Recognizing Our Finest at the College of Criminal Justice

Honors Day

The College of Criminal Justice recognizes its finest students, alumni and friends on April 28.

The College of Criminal Justice will pay tribute to its finest – both past and present students – on Honors Day, Thursday, April 28.

Honors Day begins with the Leadership Luncheon, which recognizes the College’s student organizations as well as an outstanding alumni and friends of the Criminal Justice Center. There are currently ten student organizations in the College, including Alpha Phi Sigma, the Crime Victim Services Alliance, the Graduate Student Organization, Kats for CASA, Lambda Alpha Epsilon, the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, the National Organization of Hispanics in Criminal Justice, the Order of the Sword and Shield, Phi Alpha Delta, and the Society of Forensic Science. Also being presented is this year’s Distinguished Alumnus to Dr. Hongwei Zhang (’04) and the Defensor Pacem to Rissie Owens (’80), former Chair of the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole.

The College will honor its fallen heroes at the Sundial Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. at the front entrance of the Beto Criminal Justice Center. The solemn ceremony recognizes the ultimate price paid in the field. The public is invited to attend.

The evening culminates with Honors Convocation, where students are awarded scholarships and recognized for outstanding academic achievements. This year, more than 100 scholarships will be presented, including two new offerings from the Institute for Forensic Research, Training and Innovation, and the Dr. Vincent Webb CJ SHSU Online Scholarship. The ceremony also will recognize 165 CJ Honors students, those earning GPA of 3.67 or higher.

This year, the College pays tribute to two alumni for their leadership in the field of criminal justice.
Dr. Zhang is an international scholar in the field of criminal justice who has published 10 books and dozens of peer-reviewed articles in American, Asian and international journals on such topics as campus safety, juvenile justice, victim protection, child welfare laws, and the American criminal justice system. He is currently a professor in the College of Humanities in Jinan University in Zhuhai, China and serves as Director of its Juvenile and Family Law Research Center.

Before joining Jinan University, Dr. Zhang was a professor at Guangxi University Law School in Nanning, China, and a visiting scholar at the University of Macau in China, Dalhousie University Law School in Canada, Hanyang University Law School in South Korea, the University of Oslo in Norway, and the University of Tuebingen Law School and the Max Plank Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, both located in Germany. He also was a postdoctoral fellow at Ryukoku University in Japan.

Dr. Zhang served as the Deputy Chief Procurator for the Nanning Municipal People Procuratorate, the judicial branch in China, appearing in matters covering local criminal and juvenile cases. He also managed research and program developments for the office. He has won several outstanding teaching and research awards during his career. Dr. Zhang is also Deputy Director and one of the founders of the Asian Society of Substance Abuse Research, which promotes scientific research and evidence-based prevention and treatment policies in substance abuse in Asia.

The Defensor Pacem, which is given to an individual or organization that has provided invaluable assistance to the criminal justice field, is being presented to Rissie Owens (’80), who served on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles from 1997 until her retirement in 2015. In 2003, she was appointed the first female chair of the board. During her tenue, the agency received national and international recognition as a model for releasing authorities which developed best practice approaches that increased parole approval rates without jeopardizing community safety and reduced the revocation rates of offenders. She also provided board members and parole commissioners with training and support and collaborated with legislators, criminal justice agencies and stakeholders to open the line of communications on the state’s parole system

Owens has a long and distinguished career in the field of criminal justice, having served as a Probation Officer in Galveston County; a Grievance and Field Coordinator with the then-Texas Department of Corrections; a Case Manager with Brazos Valley MHMR; and a court coordinator with Brazos County 272nd District Court. She also is an adjunct faculty member at the College of Criminal Justice.

Member of The Texas State University System