A changing campus landscape and operational adjustments, implemented at Ferris State University, find School of Criminal Justice professors working in Interdisciplinary Resource Center (IRC) offices, with varied bases of operation , as it approaches its 50th anniversary.
Criminal justice professor and program director Joseph Ferrandino said a noticeable change in joining the College of Business is the level of activity, as they arrived in the central campus area.
“We made a quick adjustment by relocating 10 faculty and staff to IRC in July and August,” Ferrandino said. “Being based at Bishop Hall, this was typically our staff, the 500 CJ students on campus, and traffic near the Early Education Center. Now we have a more complete collegiate backdrop with soccer players parking in front of our building, listening to their music playing as they practice at Top Taggart Field in the late morning. It brought a great infusion of life, which we really appreciate.
Ferrandino said some training locations remain the same while others adjust as Bishop Hall nears future demolition as part of the campus master plan.
“Our Criminal Justice Academy classes continue in the southwestern townships while all other elements of criminal justice learning take place elsewhere on campus,” Ferrandino said. “It’s a new learning experience for all of us. Currently, the School of Digital Media continues at Bishop Hall pending construction of the Virtual Learning Center. Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) staff are also based in Bishop. ”
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring semester of 2020 has caused Academy students to adapt to every determination by campus leaders and state education officials to continue with their classes.
“We resumed teaching face to face at the earliest possible opportunity,” said Ferrandino. “It was necessary to meet the requirements of the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES). Right now, all of our instruction has reverted to face-to-face learning, as appropriate. ”
The faculty of the School of Criminal Justice has the unique ability to offer students insight into their career experience. Ferrandino said their service as prosecutors, judges, county sheriffs, defense attorneys, police officers, director and correctional officers is an important part of Ferris’ CJ program.
“Their ability to convey what they have experienced in the field, or in court, as well as real life scenarios is a rare level of expertise, in terms of teaching criminal justice,” Ferrandino said. “It is a source of pride for our school.
Students can prepare for their careers by pursuing a minor in criminal justice, an associate’s degree in CJ, and a Bachelor of Science with a focus on law enforcement, corrections, or as a generalist. Ferrandino said the school also has a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration. Frequently, mastery is pursued by officers and other professionals.
“I understand people hear criminal justice, assuming our students are looking for law enforcement roles,” Ferrandino said. “This is how our program started, in the 1970s. About 25 years ago, to approach a broader vision of this profession, we started our generalist course. Shortly after, we established a correctional program to allow students to train in an area where the demand for professionals is high. ”
Ferrandino added, “Students taking our Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration program may seek administrative positions in their department, and we have had great success at the regional, state and national levels. Tim Murphy entered the private sector after serving as deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Kim Koster and Vernon Coakley head the Wyoming and Kalamazoo public safety departments, respectively. Several Michigan County Sheriffs are among our graduates. We also see former students of the administration of criminal justice teaching in community college CJ programs and serving as leaders in probation departments. The emphasis is on helping victims of crime, and our alumni have been successful there. Law enforcement is important, but so are these other aspects of pursuing and ensuring justice in our communities. ”
Ferrandino said a mid-October fair for criminal justice students was a success, as there were more than 50 law enforcement agencies, government departments and other employment opportunities to consider. .
“The market for our students is promising as there is currently a significant push for new CJ professionals,” said Ferrandino. “Whether the graduates are seasoned alumni or just graduating from college, I would say they have the best job market ahead of them that I have ever seen. ”
As the 50th anniversary of Ferris’ CJ program approaches, Ferrandino said plans were being made to take note and celebrate the occasion.
“Woodbridge Ferris said, long before our program was created, that this is a place that seeks to ‘make the world a better place’,” said Ferrandino. “We look forward to considering our school’s contribution to this goal and to our future. ”