He says that he has had to convince distraught parents of students who have decided to seek careers in law enforcement, corrections, or community services such as probation, just how lucky they are to have a child who is selfless enough consider spending a lifetime in such service.
"They don't understand how someone would want to spend their life doing such dangerous, thankless, low-paying work," says Friel. "I tell them that their sons and daughters are the salt of the earth."
Charlie Friel is rather salty, himself.
Since coming to Sam Houston State as one of the first faculty members in the school's fledgling criminology and corrections program, Friel has served as a faculty member, as a research director, as assistant director, and as dean of the College of Criminal Justice and director of the Criminal Justice Center.
Just that five-year stint alone, from 1986 to 1991 as dean and director, would be more than enough to qualify Friel for this prestigious award.
While Friel was director;
In addition to those projects, Friel has been involved over the years in university committee work, service to other universities and to the community, service to criminal justice professional organizations, and service to criminal justice agencies nationally and internationally.
In 1978 and again in 1984, he received fellowships from the Japanese Ministry of Justice to study that nation's correctional system. In 1988 he served as a visiting lecturer in various police colleges in the People's Republic of China.
He has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Canada and was the 1988 recipient of the O. J. Hawkins Award for innovative national leadership in the development of criminal justice information systems. In 1993 he received the Justice Charles W. Barrow Award for distinguished service to the Texas Judiciary, and in 1996 the Criminal Justice Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award.
Friel's undergraduate studies were at Maryknoll College, and he received a Ph. D. in experimental psychology at the Catholic University of America. He worked in the U. S. space program before coming to Sam Houston State in 1967.
Friel will receive $800 for winning the Excellence in Service Award and will be recognized at SHSU commencement exercises May 17.