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College of Public Service

A Message from the Chair

​As Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Social Work at the University of Houston-Downtown, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome you to our programs and reflect on some of the highlights of our past semester. 

Fall semester had its challenges as the impact of Hurricane Harvey continues even months later. I am proud of how our department and university helped those in need. We had faculty and students who donated their time, resources, and even opened their homes to neighbors. Our Social Work faculty opened a resource room providing students with food, gasoline cards, and personal items in order to help students stay enrolled. 

In August, we were fortunate to host many community partners on campus in to discuss how our CJ and SW faculty might provide education and training to local Correctional practitioners. 

In September, Dr. Wernet, Dr. Blackburn, and Dr. Harris presented results from their grant-funded research to a large audience of students, faculty, and community members. Also in September Dr. Ed Latessa was a Vital Voices speaker and presented, "Reducing Recidivism: What Works and What Doesn't." Sheriff Ed Gonzalez was our first Vital Alumni speaker of the semester and spoke about the impact UHD had on his life and career. 

In October, the UHD alumni office hosted a career fair for Criminal Justice and Social Work students featuring UHD alumni. This event gave students a chance to interact with and ask questions of alumni working in the field in careers such as probation, victim advocacy, and fire investigation. 

In November, College of Public Service faculty and staff participated in the 9/11 Heroes run 5k race supporting the Travis Manion foundation. Cadets from the CJ Training center ran the race along with police officers, fire fighters, and hundreds of community members.

Also in November, we held our first ever Symposium: Innovation in Criminal Justice. President Juan Munoz welcomed guests to campus and there were three panel sessions on restorative justice, diversion programs, and community justice. The panels included UHD faculty from Criminal Justice, Social Work, and Urban Education along with local practitioners and national experts. 

Dr. Pfeffer's CJ 4316 class held end of semester poster presentations at a coffee shop in the Heights that gives a portion of their proceeds to fight human trafficking. Students formed small groups and presented data on human trafficking in a specific country. 

Phi Alpha Honor Society inducted a record number of Social Work students into their Honor Society and celebrated the Social Work Field Instructor of the Year. The Social Work program also welcomed several new field experience sites for students including Texas Organizing Project, Montrose Center, Avenue CDC, and Leonel Castillo Center. PSCJS Professional Society for CJ Students held their end of the year banquet and Alpha Phi Sigma sponsored a holiday gift drive for several families affected by Harvey. Pasadena Police Department helped contribute gifts and wrapping.

In December, Dr. Judith Harris hosted an end of semester celebration for her CJ 4370 Senior Seminar class. It is a service learning class where students perform community outreach as a part of the course. Some of those students taking extra training in order to be state certified as a recovery coach. 

Exciting things are in store for us in 2018. If you have not been to campus recently, we hope you will attend one of our Spring events such as Social Work person of the year where students will honor "Mattress Mack" Jim McIngvale or Dr. Pelz' Summit on Public Health in April. 

Our Vital Alumni speaker series will continue and a networking fair for CJ and SW students to interact with working professionals is planned for April. The Social Work faculty will begin their pilot program to make all Social Work textbooks open access for Social Work majors. 

In closing, I want to share two more exciting changes in our department. First, the Criminal Justice academic advisors, Lee Smith and Mercedes Gonzalez have moved into the Criminal Justice suite in C340. Also, Professor Beth Gilmore recently became our new Internship and Career Services Coordinator. Professor Gilmore will assist students in finding the best internship placement for their career goals and will have additional office hours to speak to students about career goals and career options in Criminal Justice. 

Again, we are grateful for your support and look forward to working with you in 2018.


Beth Sanders, Ph.D.

Associate Professor & Chair


Last updated 1/26/2018 5:37 AM