Western Carolina University is the first four-year institution in the state to receive recertification of its postsecondary criminal justice education program by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.
The certification was announced by N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper. Fred Hawley, professor of criminal justice at WCU, accepted the certification at the commission’s February 23 meeting in Raleigh.
The voluntary certification program was established in 1985 to officially recognize those academic institutions that have established minimum requirements as set forth by the commission. The goal of the certification program is to improve the quality of criminal justice education in North Carolina and advance the standards approved by the commission.
Applicant institutions are required to submit a comprehensive self-study to the commission. The institution is then visited by a team of experts in the criminal education field, who conduct an extensive evaluation of the program.
Law enforcement studies began at WCU in the late 1960s. A criminal justice department was approved by The University of North Carolina Board of Governors in 1984. In 1988, the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission unanimously voted to award initial certification to WCU, which was the first accrediting certification of a four-year criminal justice program in the United States.