Today@Sam Article

First Bearkat Doctoral Recipient Reflects On SHSU Experience And Distinguished Career

Dec. 11, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd

From left, George Killinger, Randall McCauley, Ronald Waldron an Elliot Bowers chat after McCauley and Waldron's dissertations were approved.

By Kim Foster

Fifty years ago, Sam Houston State University passed an important milestone in its history. In 1973, the SHSU College of Criminal Justice, originally the SHSU Institute of Contemporary Corrections, conferred the university’s first two doctoral degrees to R. Paul McCauley and Ronald Waldron. To mark the occasion, we asked McCauley to share some memories about his experience at SHSU and his career post-graduation.

T@S: Why SHSU and the College of Criminal Justice?

RPM: Being married and having just received a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Eastern Kentucky University, I was looking for employment. I had done well in my graduate work and the dean asked me if I was up to a doctoral program. Me, a doctor? After my wife, Gail, and I talked it over and considering that I was a former Marine I had access to the GI Bill and additional federal funding was available from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), I told the dean I would welcome the challenge. I traveled to Huntsville and met with George Killinger and other faculty. Amazingly, I was offered a fellowship and teaching assistantship with stipends. Needless to say, Gail and I said yes.

T@S: What were your thoughts/feelings on graduation day, knowing you were one of the first to earn a PhD from SHSU?

RPM: Clearly, I was a member of the first doctoral student cohort at SHSU pursuing a degree in the Institute of Contemporary Corrections and the Behavioral Sciences, later to become the College of Criminal Justice. Despite the fact that I satisfied the traditional Doctor of Philosophy requirement of passing, by national testing, scientific reading of two foreign languages (German and French), the educational politics in Texas were such that I was not awarded the Doctor of Philosophy, but rather awarded SHSU’s first doctorate, the Doctor of Criminal Justice (DCJ) on May 15, 1973. Because of SHSU’s foreign language requirement in the classical PhD tradition, about two years later the Texas educational politics changed and the DCJ degree was replaced with the PhD and my PhD was issued retroactively to May 15, 1973. That technically also made me SHSU’s first PhD awardee. Incidentally, George Beto, for whom the Criminal Justice Center is named, was a member of my dissertation committee.

T@S: Tell us about your career after earning your PhD.

RPM: Upon graduation I became assistant professor and director of graduate studies and a member the faculties of the National Crime Prevention Institute and the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville School of Justice Administration. Also, I opened my consulting practice in 1973 when approached by a civil rights attorney to serve as an expert in a police excessive force/vehicle pursuit case. After nearly 10 years at the University of Louisville I became professor and chair, Department of Criminology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, retiring in 2010 as Professor Emeritus. I am a former president of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and a Fulbright Scholar to Australia. I closed my consulting practice January 2023 after 50 years and later celebrated my 80th birthday and Gail and my 58th anniversary with family.

I have served as a forensic criminologist-expert in more than 1,000 civil and criminal, state and federal lawsuits. My work at and credentials from SHSU have served me well for half a century. 

T@S: What’s your favorite memory during your time at SHSU?

RPM: I was a law enforcement-oriented scholar who enjoyed the awakening by being exposed to the full criminal justice arena including probation, parole and corrections. My cohort talked, ate and slept the philosophies and practices of that ideal called justice. I think it is fair to say we were our greatest teachers.

In hindsight, something special happened to me as I was writing my dissertation. I found some research by a professor Ostrom at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. I called her and what I expected to be a 10-minute conversation, lasted for more than an hour. Professor Ostrom was most gracious and just a supremely well informed interdisciplinary academic and scholar. She offered a perspective I had not considered in a way that took me back to the drawing board for dissertation revision. I was totally impressed to say the least. To make my point Elinor “Lin” Ostrom, PhD was the first woman awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 2009. While at the University of Louisville I was able to meet Lin in Bloomington and become friends.

Any advice to those considering enrolling at SHSU/currently pursuing their degree or recent graduates?

RPM: Make opportunities and recognize them when they are presented. Best wishes to all as you work hard to make a difference. 

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