Criminal Justice swears in new dean

Vincent J. Webb, one of the nation’s foremost authorities on gangs, has been selected as dean of the College of Criminal Justice and director of the Criminal Justice Center at Sam Houston State University.

Webb is now director of the Center for the Study of Crime, Delinquency and Corrections at Southern Illinois University. He takes over for Richard H. Ward, who has directed the SHSU criminal justice program since 1999. The change is effective May 17.

“The prospect of being a leader in the leading college of criminal justice is very exciting,” said Webb. “I am really looking forward to being part of the Sam Houston State University team and working with students, faculty, staff and administrators.

“I believe we can continue to build on the strong tradition of the College as a leading center of excellence and innovation in criminal justice education, research and outreach.”

Prior to accepting his present position at Southern Illinois last September, Webb was professor of criminal justice at Arizona State University West, where he developed and implemented the Arizona State University Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety.

During that time, 1996-2005, he was also a research consultant to the Office of the Provost at Arizona State University West (2003-2005) and chairman of the Department of Administration of Justice there (1996-2003).

Previously he was chairman of the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (1982-1996) and director of the Center for Applied Urban Research there (1980-1986).

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Webb received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1967 and 1969 and his doctorate in sociology from Iowa State University in 1972.

Webb’s major publications include a book he wrote with Ward in 1984, entitled “Quest for Quality.” His latest book is “Policing Gangs in America,” which he co-authored with Charles Katz and which was released earlier this year.

Webb and Katz spent three years studying police gang units in four Western cities, including hanging out with two gang units as they completed their daily operations. They found that officers in those units generally had little training or assigned duties and little supervision and often had relatively little to do with gang members.

“What contacts they did have-citing gang members for jaywalking, for example-did not lead to gang ‘control’ and even got in the way of producing useful ‘street’ information,” according to a Southern Illinois University news release.

Ward said he has followed Webb’s career and believes he “will continue the tradition that has made the Sam Houston State University criminal justice program a national and international leader.”

“I believe he will move the college forward in its present rapid development,” said David Payne, SHSU provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Webb’s appointment is subject to approval of the SHSU board of regents. Ward said that his current plans are to continue to teach and do research in the College of Criminal Justice.

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