SMC launches Criminal Justice program with 60 students

Published 5:25 pm Friday, September 13, 2013

One, then two, then three. Three Intro to Criminal Justice classes filled almost as soon as they were added to Southwestern Michigan College’s fall schedule.

On the first day of classes, 60 students were declared Criminal Justice majors, even though the program is barely underway.

There’s obviously some excitement surrounding SMC’s newest academic program – and not just among students.

Todd Adkins, the Criminal Justice program director, is passionate about this new chapter in his life.

Originally from Dowagiac, Adkins completed a bachelor’s degree in political science at Western Michigan University, completed law school at the University of Iowa and, following a career in policy advocacy in Washington, D.C., recently completed a master’s degree in political science at the University of Notre Dame, where he is currently completing a doctorate in political science.

“I didn’t go into my PhD program thinking I’d end up at a community college,” he says. “But once I started teaching part-time at SMC, I realized there was no doubt about it. This is where I belong. I made the transition into teaching because good teachers are why I ultimately succeeded in the workforce. I needed good teachers. I feel I can be someone’s good teacher.”

According to Adkins, SMC’s Criminal Justice program is unique among others in the area due to the well-established relationship between SMC and Ferris State University.

Ferris offers a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice that a student can earn without ever leaving SMC’s Dowagiac Campus. “And the easy transition from associate to bachelor’s degree is what makes the SMC program so attractive to students,” Adkins said.

SMC President David Mathews says that the new Criminal Justice program was developed in response to community need.

“There are vast career opportunities for Criminal Justice graduates. The field is not just law enforcement and corrections, as is commonly believed. Opportunities can also be found in human services and social services agencies, as well as information technology departments. Criminal Justice is also a great degree for students looking to go to law or even grad school.”

For his part, Adkins says his task is to “help every student identify their strengths and weaknesses. College is a time to find out what excites you and to develop your skills. What do you enjoy? Figure that out and create a career out of it. Criminal Justice is a very dynamic field where a student can have just about any professional interest and find a satisfying and rewarding career within the field.”

It appears Adkins already has at least 60 excited students on his hands.

“We can’t form a Criminal Justice student club fast enough. On the first day, I had students coming to me with ideas for extra-curricular CJ activities.”

College officials hoped to launch the program with at least 20 students and, according to Mathews, although SMC had high expectations for first-semester enrollment, “We were very happily surprised at the response.”


For more information about SMC’s Criminal Justice program, contact Adkins at (269) 782-1291;