Oliver Receives Accolades from Criminal Justice Organizations


Willard Oliver was recognized for his outstanding service to the field by ACJS and SWACJ.

Willard Oliver, a professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, received two awards from professional organizations in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field and preservation of the history of the associations.

Oliver was presented the Historian Service Award for 2012-2016 from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS), one of the two major organizations in criminal justice scholarship. He also earned the Felix Fabian Founder’s Award from the Southwestern Association of Criminal Justice (SWACJ), a regional affiliate of ACJS, for service to the regional organization and field.

Oliver served on the executive boards of both organizations and was appointed the second historian for ACJS. He is followed in that position by Dr. Mitchel Roth, a fellow professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. Because of information uncovered during his historical research, Oliver pressed SWACJ to create an award for its members and name it in honor of an early pioneer at both associations, Felix Fabian.

“It is important to know where you come from and to learn from those insights into the past,” said Oliver. “ACJS was very small in the 1970s—there was only 30 members—while today we can get anywhere from 1,400 to 1,700 members at a conference.”

During the 50th Anniversary of the ACJS in 2013, Oliver was asked to write a history of the organization, which resulted in a 111-page book highlighting the accomplishments of the academy from its beginning with August Vollmer, a former Berkeley Police Chief and professor at the University of California at Berkeley, to its recent leadership. The book profiled each of the presidents that served the academy and their accomplishments. He also wrote a quarterly column called the Historian’s Corner in ACJS Today, which provided tidbits from the history of the organization.

In addition to the anniversary publication, Oliver produced articles on V.A. Leonard, who was instrumental in the creation of three professional groups, including ACJS, the American Society of Criminology and Alpha Phi Sigma, as well as a history of Bruce Smith for whom an ACJS award is named. That award is presented annually by ACJS “in recognition of outstanding contributions to criminal justice as an academic or professional endeavor.” The award recognizes those in leadership positions who are actively involved in research.

The Felix Fabian Founder’s Award was presented to Oliver by SWACJ, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the organization and the profession. The award is named in honor of Fabian, a former Houston Police officer who went on to teach at several prestigious universities, including Washington State University, the University of Nebraska. and Corpus Christi University, now known as Texas A & M, Corpus Christi. Fabian was instrumental in the creation of the International Association of Police Professors, which evolved into ACJS and the Southwestern Association of Criminal Justice. Fabian served as a president of both organizations.

“I have been involved with SWACJ since coming to Sam Houston State (in 2003), and I get calls for the institutional memory of the organization,” said Oliver. “I didn’t think I was that old.”

Member of The Texas State University System