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May-31-2007 04:35printcomments

Corban College Launches Criminal Justice Major this Fall

Salem Police Department Deputy Chief Steve Bellshaw is a graduate of Corban College.

Steve Bellshaw photo
Salem Police Department Deputy Chief Steve Bellshaw speaks to a criminal justice class during the spring 2007 semester.
Photo: Corban College

(SALEM, Ore. ) - With its proximity to prisons, police stations and the sparkling new Oregon Public Safety Academy, Corban College & Graduate School is physically surrounded by law enforcement culture.

As emergency service workers travel from all over the state for training literally next-door, Corban has quietly developed academic offerings of its own.

Four years after introducing a criminal justice minor, the college will offer a criminal justice major starting this fall.

The new major’s primary creator is Ron Whitehead, 75, a retired sheriff, chaplain and educator who spent 23 years policing.

While doing missions work in Salem in 2003, he was invited by psychology professor Dr. Rich Meyers to develop curriculum for a criminal justice minor.

He became an adjunct instructor in 2004, sharing his class load with adjuncts Larry Allen, a retired sheriff’s office captain; Alan Bittel, a former probation officer; and Pat Poole, a retired Oregon State Police trooper.

“Introducing a criminal justice major is exciting, not just for me, but for alumni and those in the profession,” Whitehead said.

The criminal justice major prepares students to become police officers, corrections workers, parole and probation officers, private investigators, 911 dispatchers, court staff and other law enforcement specialists.

Part of the college’s social science program, the major requires 30 credit hours of core courses including Crisis Counseling, Administration of Justice, Criminology and Juvenile Delinquency. Students are strongly encouraged to minor in ministry or psychology.

“In our minds, the criminal justice major certainly fits the college’s mission. We like to think of ourselves as a redemptive community wanting to come alongside and serve people,” said social science program chair Dr. Bob Mathisen. “Justice and compassion – it’s appropriate to a Christian mindset and a Christian view of the world.”

Approved by Corban’s academic council and board of trustees, the new major has also been given the go-ahead by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

As it turns out, a large number of Corban graduates already work in the field of law enforcement. The college hasn’t officially tracked the number of alumni, but initial research pegs it at well over 100 – and growing.

One such alumnus is Salem Police Department Deputy Chief Steve Bellshaw, who graduated with a degree in theology in 1984. Bellshaw has spoken on campus and said he’s pleased to see Corban introduce a major in criminal justice.

“It’s important to have Christian influences in law enforcement,” Bellshaw said. “Police officers have a significant amount of power, so you need law enforcement officers who are well-grounded and who make good decisions. Corban prepares people do to that.”

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