CWU News

CWU Names Paul Knepper Chair of Law and Justice

Central Washington University has named Paul Knepper, PhD, the new chair of the Department of Law and Justice. Knepper, who will begin this fall, comes to Ellensburg from the United Kingdom, where he is professor of criminology in the School of Law at the University of Sheffield.

“Knepper’s hire is a boon to the Law and Justice Department and CWU as a whole,” commented Tim Englund, dean for the College of the Sciences. “His extensive research, coupled with an international perspective, will bring added value to our students.”

Knepper brings a diverse array of experience to the role, having conducted research and lectured across Europe for 12 years. He is a visiting professor in the School of Criminal Sciences at the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland, and has been a visiting professor at the Institute of Criminology, University of Malta. Knepper is also the editor of the European Journal of Criminology and serves on the executive board of the European Society of Criminology.

“I am very excited about joining CWU,” Knepper said, “The department combines the study of criminal justice, legal studies, and wider issues of social justice that I found particularly appealing.”

Knepper is the author or editor of 10 books and some 50 research articles. His research has appeared in the leading criminology journals in the USA, and also Australia, Canada, Germany, and Scandinavia.

While in the UK, he initiated the Black Firsts in British Law project. Together with students, he interviewed the first black lawyers in leading positions in criminal justice and legal professions to learn about persistent racial barriers and their strategies for breaking through. This research followed up an earlier study in North Carolina which involved the first African Americans to reach top jobs in policing, prosecution, the judiciary, and corrections.

Knepper recalls traveling to central Washington as a child to visit family living in Toppenish. “It’s even more beautiful than I remember,” he said following a visit to the campus for his interview. “Well . . . and more windy.”

Knepper earned his doctorate in the School of Justice and Social Inquiry at Arizona State University. His Master and Bachelor of Science were attained from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and Green Bay, respectively.

Media contact: Dawn Alford, public affairs coordinator, 509-963-1484,