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Criminal Justice Experiences ‘Changing Of The Guard’

Aug. 25, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Beth Kuhles

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Vincent Webb Phillip Lyons
Vincent Webb (left) and Phillip Lyons (right)

After serving as dean of the Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice and director of the Criminal Justice Center for eight years, Vincent J. Webb stepped down on Aug. 15 to become a full-time faculty member. Phillip Lyons, a longtime professor at the college, will serve as interim dean during a nationwide search for a successor.

“It has been a real privilege to serve as dean and director since coming to Sam in 2006,” Webb said. “This faculty and staff have been great to work with—they simply are the best! The criminal justice/center faculty, staff and alumni can take pride in all that they have accomplished and they can look forward to a very bright future.”

Lyons joined the SHSU faculty in 1995 and has served in several leadership positions at the college, most recently as chair of the department of security studies and as director of professional justice studies, which links professionals in the field with educational opportunities offered at the college.

He also served as executive director for the Center for Policing Innovation, one of 17 community-policing institutes nationwide that provides training and technical assistance on a variety of community policing and other timely law enforcement topics to state, local and tribal agencies.

Before attending graduate school, Lyons spent several years as a law enforcement officer for the Alvin Police Department, the Alvin Community College Police Department and the Hillcrest Village Marshal’s Office.

When he left full-time law enforcement, he was a detective specializing in crimes involving children. His areas of expertise include forensic psychology, policing, law and psychology, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues in criminal justice.

Lyons has written or coauthored dozens of scholarly and professional works, including books, book chapters, and journal articles.

In 2012, Lyons was named the first recipient of the David Payne Academic Community Engagement Award at SHSU, which recognizes excellence in community engagement through teaching, research and service.

“For my nearly 20 years here at Sam Houston, I’ve actively participated in our efforts toward advancing our research, teaching, and service endeavors at the Criminal Justice Center,” Lyons said. “Now, I’m really excited to have the opportunity to play an even bigger part in helping the wonderful people here do great things.”

During his tenure, Webb ushered in many new changes and initiatives at one of the oldest and largest criminal justice programs in the country, which has more than 40 faculty members.

To demonstrate the extensive specialties available in the criminal justice field, he created three distinct departments to guide students in their chosen fields, including criminal justice and criminology, forensic science and security studies. He also recruited new faculty in diverse areas of research, including emerging disciplines in biosocial studies, victimology, homeland security, and forensic science.

Since 2006, Webb also has led the George J. Beto Criminal Justice Center, a highly integrated facility which incorporates a number of research and professional training institutes, including the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas, the Correctional Management Institute of Texas and the Crime Victims’ Institute, to name a few.

Webb also was successful at establishing new institutes in the field, including the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility, one of only six “body farms” in the world for forensic anthropology research and an independent crime lab to assist jurisdictions in the area with toxicology and illegal substance testing. He also oversaw High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program for the Office of National Drug Control Polices, as well as “Project Safe Neighborhoods” funding for police departments.

Finally, he administered Impaired Driving Initiatives, a Department of Transportation-funded program, to get drunk and drugged drivers off the road by training law enforcement, school officials, employers and probation and parole officers to recognize the signs of impairment.

Other programs established under Webb include:

  • Initiated the Ph.D. in forensic science and master’s degrees in security studies, forensic science and victim services management;
  • Started online degree programs at the college, including bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and master’s degrees in criminal justice leadership and management;
  • Introduced the Criminal Justice Career Fair;
  • Established a dual degree program with Zhejiang Police College in China;
  • Won the “Outstanding Book Award” from the Academy of Criminal Justice Science for co-authoring “Policing Gangs in America;”
  • Implemented programs to train and educate law enforcement and corrections officials from other countries; and
  • Began the Major Cities Research Initiative, which targets research and development programs to control crime in the state’s six largest cities.

As a full-time faculty member, Webb will work on a wide variety of projects, including research and program development for the college’s institutes and centers.



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