TSU Is Right On Target
They call it the CSI effect: the TV show CSI has spurred not hundreds, but thousands, of students in colleges across the nation to seek degrees in criminal justice, forensic science, and related areas, such as accounting. And, it's not just a phenomenon of traditional students. Whether they've come back to college to further their education or are enrolling in degree-granting evening classes for the first time, adults are choosing these programs for their majors, too.
The trend has not bypassed TSU. In fact, this fall, in a count that includes all the branch campuses and evening programs, as well as the main campus, students majoring in criminal justice at TSU out number mechanical engineering majors. But, while some colleges and universities are just announcing the start of a criminal justice program or major at their schools—or polishing and adding on to their existing programs—Tri-State has been churning out a top-notch CRJ program for the past several years, with students who consistently place in the top echelon in regional and national CSI competitions.
"The program that we offer, plus the diverse activities, gives our students an edge when it comes to entering the job market," says Craig Laker, chairman of the department of criminal justice, psychology and social sciences.
While the CRJ program and forensic science are in two different departments, they go hand-in-hand on a crime scene. And, depending on the scene, companion degrees in business administration and accounting can be just as important. The CRJ and forensic science programs at Tri-State were still 20 years away when Albert Schreiber earned his degree in business administration in 1972. But today, as a senior special agent at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center under the Department of Homeland Security, Schreiber sees a critical need for the CRJ degree, at a minimum, for people looking to work in his field.
From surveillance to gathering evidence at a crime scene—or suspected crime scene—to ferreting out forgeries in written documents, that basic knowledge is crucial to the foundation of a job that goes beyond the obvious, Schreiber says. And, in today's highly exacting investigations, where even a microscopic fiber that is invisible
to the naked eye can determine the success or failure of a mission, knowledge of both criminal justice and forensic science are all but mandatory.
"Forensic science would be the add-on," Schreiber says. "In Homeland Security, we have a forensic lab and a documents lab, with an original copy of every identity document in the world. Our job is to detect the counterfeit ones-which is very important, since Homeland Security oversees the State Department in issuing visas now, to help keep terrorists out. Our people know their jobs so well that they can simply look at a bolt and tell you where it was manufactured."
Chad Adolph, '03, majored in accounting, with a minor in criminal justice. Both his CRJ training and accounting help him every day as a special agent for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
"We're constantly looking at books and records to uphold internal revenue laws, such as income tax returns and records to clarify that people actually are reporting what they made," Adolph says.
"The accounting program gave me the foundation to do that job. But the criminal justice degree gave me the foundation I needed on knowledge of federal law."
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