SHSU Women Trailblazers: Hazel Minerva Bowman Kerper
March 15, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti
- Established first law curriculum within SHSU Criminal Justice studies
- Developed a CJ courtroom learning lab later named in her honor
Hazel B. Kerper was the first woman graduate of the University of Wyoming Law School and subsequently became a member of the Wyoming, California and Texas state Bars. She also received degrees from Stanford University Law School (J.D.) and Florida State (M.S.). Kerper joined Sam Houston State University in 1966 as a professor where she devoted her career to building a law program within the Institute of Contemporary Corrections and the Behavioral Sciences (known today as the College of Criminal Justice).
With a combined background in criminology and law, Kerper demonstrated great strength in research while teaching the legal aspects of law enforcement and corrections. She also contributed to the field of CJ and law literature with three successful academic books between ‘72-‘76. Kerper’s “Introduction to the Criminal Justice System,” became the first textbook in the discipline incorporating theory with emerging justice policy and administrative practice and sold more copies than any other publication by West Publishing.
In 1978, three years after her passing, the university recognized her achievements when the new courtroom and judges' chambers in the SHSU Beto Criminal Justice Center were officially named in her honor. To mark the occasion in a ceremony, George Killinger, the founding director of the institute, spoke fondly of Kerper and the key role she played in her vision of creating the spaces as teaching labs.
“This room and the judges' chambers are a monument to her,” Killinger said. “While she was a great teacher, a great researcher, a great author and a great friend to us all - her greatest love was her field of study - the law - which she so vigorously fought for and so brilliantly added to the curriculum of the Institute and which will now be preserved, promoted and perpetuated in this great Teaching Court Room by the faculty and students who will follow and who will attempt to live up to the standards set by our great lady - Dr. Hazel Bowman Kerper.”
Click here to read more from the SHSU's Women Trailblazers issue of Heritage Magazine.
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