YSU Criminal Justice Department Celebrates 50 Years

By Najah Morgan

Jambar Contributor

Youngstown State University celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Department of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences on Oct. 11 in the Chestnut room of Kilcawley Center.

The anniversary hosted many guests such as retired professors, current professors, chair members and the chief of police at YSU.

The department first opened in 1969. Since then it has added a masters program, forensic science program, a police academy and online courses. It currently offers two undergraduate programs in criminal justice: a two-year associate program and a four-year bachelor’s program.

A graduate program is also available to receive a masters of science in the department of criminal justice. The department also offers eight minors.

Joseph Donofrio, retired 7th District Court of Appeals judge, said he was asked to come teach at YSU part-time in the criminal justice department when it first opened in 1969.

“I think the criminal justice department has been great over the past 50 years,” he said. 

Donofrio said he feels as if our community has a big advantage by having a police academy at YSU because it offers so many opportunities for people here in the city.

The criminal justice department offers a police academy and a basic peace officer training academy. Students who successfully complete the training will receive 16 semester credit hours. 

John Hazy, professor and chair at the criminal justice department, said when it started 50 years ago it was a department for police administration. 

“We are now partnering with different community colleges to try and get their students to complete the two-year associates degree and come to YSU to finish their four-year degree,” Hazy said.

He said the department is working with Eastern Gateway Community College, Lakeland Community College, and Lorrain County Community College.

Hazy said YSU is expanding their online as well as their face-to-face offerings within the criminal justice department.

Dwight Pierce, supervising special agent with the U.S. Department of Diplomatic Security Service, is a 1999 masters graduate from YSU and was the first student commander of the YSU police academy in 2000.

He said the police academy is a great example of the department expanding.

“The practical knowledge tied in with the academic knowledge is great growth and it was a lot of fun being a part of the first class,” Pierce said.

He said students who are thinking about taking up criminal justice should definitely consider.