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Law and Justice

Law and Justice Celebrates its Twentieth Anniversary

The Department of Law and Justice will be hosting a 20th Anniversary Celebration on Friday, May 5th, 2017, at 5 p.m. at Sue Lombard Hall. Get your ticket here!

During the 2016/2017 academic year, the Department of Law and Justice will celebrate its twentieth anniversary. While we are marking two decades since the establishment of the Department, law and justice have been taught at Central Washington University for a much longer period of time.

During the 1930s, what had been known as Washington State Normal School became Central Washington State College, and the college organized programs of study for students who wanted to enter fields other than education. In 1944, a “pre-professional” program became available for law, and in 1946, the pre-law schedule extended to two full years (1).

The BA program in Law and Justice began in the 1970s, a time of rapid expansion. Undergraduate enrollments climbed from 2200 at the start of the 1960s to more than 8000 by the mid-1970s. The college added buildings, hired professors, and expanded the number of degree programs offered (2). Robert C. Jacobs founded the program and served as the first director. Jacobs completed a BA in government from the City College of New York and an M.A. in political science from Columbia University. He worked as a research clerk for the Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff, interned at the New York State Commission on Human Rights, and lectured at Colby College, Maine. In 1970, he received a PhD in political science from Columbia University, having submitted a dissertation entitled Law Enforcement in a Small City. That same year, he joined the Department of Political Science at Central Washington State College.

Shortly after arriving, Jacobs began developing a proposal for a new degree in law and justice. He pointed out that the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Criminal Justice (1967) had in its report recommended that by 1983 all persons recruited as police officers acquire a baccalaureate degree. He conducted a state-wide survey to understand the market for graduates and developed a curriculum, borrowing from existing courses in the social sciences. The degree was designed to prepare students for careers in policing, but also probation, parole, and corrections; paralegal assistants and court administration. The July 12, 1974 edition of the Campus Crier announced: “A new law and justice program, the first of its kind in the state, will be offered here this fall” (3).

The first students began in the autumn of 1974. At that time, the program was an “inter-departmental major” with required courses taken in political science, sociology, and psychology. The program emphasized the liberal arts according to the philosophy that police officers needed a higher education along the same lines as other students. The LAJ curriculum was limited to upper division courses in criminal evidence, patrol, investigation, legal practice, court administration, criminal law, and police administration (4).

Originally, the program was located in the Psychology Building which housed the Political Science Department. The Psychology Building also housed the primate laboratory. Law & Justice faculty occupied the fourth floor, just above the chimpanzees learning communicate with human beings using sign language.

In 1977, Central Washington State College became Central Washington University. Changes took place in Law & Justice as well. The curriculum expanded to include courses in administration of criminal justice, family law, legal research, and industrial security. There were also courses on nuclear security and nuclear emergency management (5). Nuclear safety became a national issue in the months after the incident at Three Mile Island, and remained a focus of concern at Central Washington University throughout the 1980s. When Robert Jacobs resigned in 1988, Max D. Zwanziger became director of the program.

The Department of Law and Justice was established in 1996. Professor Michael Olivero served as the first chair. Olivero completed his PhD in sociology at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and taught at the University of Texas-Pan American. He came to Central Washington University in 1991 and taught courses in corrections, correctional law, criminology, probation/parole, research methods, and juvenile delinquency.

The catalog explained that the degree program offered by the new Department had been “designed to give students a foundation in law and justice, a broadly based education in the liberal arts tradition, not a police or corrections training experience”. It relied on the disciplines of criminal justice and legal studies, as well as political science, psychology, and sociology. Students could choose from tracks in prelaw/paralegal, corrections, and law enforcement. There were also courses in correctional law, correctional counseling, paralegal studies, police-community relations, history of crime in America, probation and parole, and research methods (6). During the 1990s, the faculty expanded to two professors, Michael Olivero, and James Roberts; an assistant professor, Jean Soliz, and a lecturer, Rodrigo Murataya. Jean Soliz served as chair (7).

In 1999, Charles Reasons became chairperson. Reasons, who completed a BA in sociology from Central Washington State College in the 1960s, received a PhD in Sociology from Washington State University and a J.D. from the University of British Columbia. Before returning to Ellensburg, he had been the chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Buffalo State University and professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. Reasons initiated a review of the undergraduate program, and the Department created a separate curriculum for Law and Justice without the need to borrow from other social science disciplines. He organized a community advisory board comprised of professionals from law, policing, and other areas of criminal justice. He also initiated the first annual awards ceremony and banquet to take place in the spring.

The Department expanded across the state and into cyberspace. Robert Pattison became a lecturer and director of the Westside. The Department offered courses at Edmonds Community College (CWU-Lynnwood), Highline Community College (CWU-Des Moines), and Pierce College (CWU-Pierce). The Department also announced a new website to supplement material in the printed catalog. Mary Ellen Reimund and Key Sun joined the faculty as assistant professors. Reimund directed CWU-Des Moines and Sun directed CWU-Pierce.

Teresa Francis Divine joined the faculty in 2004. She received a J.D. at Mississippi, College of Law and an LL.M. at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She directed CWU-Pierce and initiated the first annual Black Graduation to recognize African-American and African student achievement at CWU. A year later, Krystal Noga-Styron, who received a J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law, joined the faculty. She became director of CWU-Lynnwood.

Mary Ellen Reimund became, in 2006, chair of the Department. She received the LL.M. from the University of Missouri Law School and J.D. from Drake Law School. Prior to joining the faculty, she taught at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota. There were now two professors, Reasons and Olivero; five associate professors, Sarah Britto, Rodrigo Murataya, Mary Ellen Reimund, James B. Roberts, and Key Sun; three assistant professors, Teresa Francis, Rodrigo Murataya, and Krystal Noga-Styron; and two lecturers, Cathy Busha and Robert Moore. The Department had centers at Yakima, Des Moines, Lynnwood, and Pierce County.

In 2009, when Charles Reasons returned to the chair, the Department introduced a new curriculum. Rather than tracks in prelaw/paralegal, law enforcement, and corrections, all students completed a common core of 8 courses and 5 electives from Law and Justice courses, plus other electives (8). The core focused on critical thinking, research, legal analysis, and communication skills, and the elective element allowed students to tailor their curriculum to meet particular career goals. There were two new core courses, community and social justice and criminal law, and three new electives: African Americans and the Constitution, comparative criminal justice, and sexual minorities, law and justice. That same year, the Department of Law & Justice moved into its present location on the third floor of Farrell Hall. The building is named after Corinne Farrell, a research professor, physician and “outstanding alumnus” of the university. This new location provided space for offices, conference room, a computer lab, a library/study area for students.

Rodrigo Murataya, who directed the center at Yakima, became chair in 2012. He had completed the BA in Law and Justice at Central Washington University and had worked with Professor Olivero as a research assistant. He later earned an MPA from the University of Washington and PhD from Gonzaga University. He became a lecturer at CWU in the 1990s before his appointment to assistant professor in 2000. He became professor of law and justice in 2012.

In recent years, the Department has expanded with faculty and new programs. Cody Stoddard, a PhD in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati, joined the Department in 2010. Danielle Neal joined in 2013. She completed a PhD in Political Science at Washington State University and taught in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Roger Schaefer started in 2015. He received the PhD in Criminal Justice and Criminology from Washington State University. The Department began offering the on-line BA in Law and Justice in 2013. The content of the program is the same as that of the in-person program, but can be completed by students without regular access to Ellensburg.

The Department introduced the MS in Law & Justice in 2012. The program had originally started as a Continuing Education program through the CWU center at Kent. With the move to Ellensburg, the faculty revised the curriculum and recruited a new group of students. The first Ellensburg MSLJ cohort will graduate in 2016. That same year, Ben and Nancy Remak established a scholarship in law enforcement. The scholarship provides full-tuition for a student in pursuit of a law enforcement career that is committed to “giving back” to their community. Ben Remark received a Law & Justice degree from CWU in 1979.

Recently, the Department conducted an alumni survey. The survey revealed that, between 2008 and 2015, 3146 students had graduated with a Law and Justice degree. CWU alumni work, many in positions of leadership, throughout Washington.


  1. Samuel R. Mohler, The First Seventy-Five Years: A History of Central Washington State College 1891-1966 (Ellensburg, Washington: Central Washington State College, 1966), pp. 165-166.
  2. Karen Blair, “Central Washington University”, p. 4
  3. “Jacobs will head new program in law and justice” Campus Crier. July 12, 1974, p. 8.
  4. Central Washington State College Quarterly, Undergraduate Studies 1975-76, pp. 132-133.
  5. Central Washington University Bulletin 1985/87, pp 159-160.
  6. Central Washington University, Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog 1994/96, pp 156-157.
  7. Central Washington University, Undergraduate Catalog 1999-2000, pp 132-133.
  8. Central Washington University, Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog, 2009-2010, p 178.

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