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Distinguished Alumni and Outstanding Ambassadors Inducted into Wall of Fame

USF’s Department of Criminology held its second annual wall of fame induction ceremony on Friday, Oct. 4 at the Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club. Those in attendance included past and present department chairs, students, faculty and special guests including USF Mascot Rocky D. Bull. The Wall of Fame recognizes highly-accomplished alumni and students who have demonstrated strong personal integrity and character.

Dr. Kathleen Heide served as emcee of the event, as Dr. Michael Leiber was unable to be present.

“Some of you may not know this, but this was [Dr. Leiber’s] dream. He came up with the idea of having a wall of fame to honor people who have been our students and have gone on to do really, really well. It’s like proud parents, and that’s how we feel,” said Dr. Heide.

The distinguished alumni inducted into the wall of fame this year include: Joni Bernbaum, Mark Giroux, Joseph Kuhns, Lisa Landis, Steven Millwee, Christine Robinson Millwee and David Romine. Outstanding criminology ambassadors inducted include: Kimberly Barrett, Sarah Ehlke, Lane Kirkland Gillespie, Luke Williams and Stacie Molina Woods.

New inductees took the time to reflect on their experiences as students at USF and how USF helped shape them into the successful individuals they are today.

 “From the phenomenal professors and their extensive experience and knowledge, to the extremely diverse and complex curriculum, to the outstanding students I was in the cohort with. It’s a time I’ll always look back on with fond memories. To receive a master’s degree from USF was like a great big door of opportunity and on the other side of that door was everything that I could have hoped to achieve in my professional career,” said Mark Giroux, a 1996 graduate with a Master of Arts in Criminology. Within two months of graduation, Giroux launched his career in federal law enforcement and, over the past 17 years, has worked in four different departments at the cabinet level.

“I’m so grateful for everything that USF has taught me and I owe a lot of appreciation to my professors that instilled in me the confidence to pursue my career,” said Christine Robinson Millwee, a 1986 graduate with a degree in criminology. Millwee currently serves as CFO of SecurTest, Inc., an international background screening company.

“The cohort program was designed for the working professional and because of that it facilitated me being able to keep my job as a police chief and achieve one of my life goals, the master’s program,” said David Romine, a 2008 graduate of the master’s program in criminal justice administration. He was able to achieve another life goal, teaching, through his appointment as chairman of the Florida Police Chief’s Association training committee; he has since become a professor of criminology.

Stacie Molina Woods received her undergraduate degree in criminology from USF in 1997. Woods believes that her education laid the building block for her career in criminal justice.

“It definitely laid the foundation for all of the work that I do with the community. Being active and involved in the department helped me to become better with the community later on in my career, as well,” said Woods.

 “In 1973, when I first started, the criminology program at USF was a relatively new program. However, it was ranked in the top four in the nation and that’s why I selected it. Since then it has become a world class criminology program largely due to its professors who mentor their students, like me,” said Steven Millwee, a 1978 USF graduate.

On the day of his graduation, he founded SecurTest, Inc. Today it is the largest background screening company in the world.

Luke Williams is an assistant chief of the St. Petersburg Police Department where he has served for the last 28 years. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from USF in 1996 and a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration in 2008.

“What’s important about USF and my tenure with the police department is that education is very important to ensure that we have well-rounded, prepared officers to go out and serve our community,” said Williams.

Lisa Landis graduated in 1995 with her bachelor’s degree in criminology and in 1997 with her master’s degree in criminology. She believes that USF has impacted her life in two distinct ways.

 “The first is that the level of guidance and mentorship I received from the faculty not only made me a better scholar but afforded me the opportunity to be among the first of two graduate students who taught in the undergraduate program. The second way is the lasting relationships that have been forged through nearly two decades. Not only among my cohort, but among the faculty who began as my mentors that are now my colleagues and good friends. I cherish them and couldn’t imagine my life without them in it,” said Landis.

Landis now serves as the department’s undergraduate director, internship coordinator and adjunct professor.

Dr. Heide went on to introduce Dean Julie Serovich for the opening remarks for the ceremony.

“In my position, I get to see not only the data and the overall schema of all of the departments in my college, but I get to see them throughout the entire university. I can tell you that the Department of Criminology is one of the best in this university,” said Dean Serovich.

The ceremony continued with Emeritus Professor Dr. William Blount giving an account of the department’s history throughout the years.

“When I showed up in 1968, there wasn’t any criminology or criminal justice program here. What we had was a series of research institutes,” said Dr. Blount.

He recounted how researchers were to pursue various projects and find funding for these projects. A few years after his arrival at the university, the institutes were dispersed into departments. A member of the Florida Board of Regents informed Blount that the state wished to establish criminal justice programs in the state university system.

Alongside Dr. Mitchell Silverman, and with research grants in hand, the idea began to flourish. Drs. Blount, Silverman and Manuel Vega built the curriculum for what became the criminal justice program, as it was officially established in 1970.

Throughout the years, the department continued to grow. A master’s program was added, new faculty members were added, departments were established at the other USF campuses and, eventually, a Ph.D. program gave way to a new realm of knowledge and experience for students.

“Looking around, I’m so proud of what this department has been able to accomplish---the faculty we’ve been able to employ and incredible individuals we’ve had the honor of teaching,” said Dr. Blount.

Dr. Dwayne Smith, senior vice provost for faculty affairs and dean of the office of graduate studies, gave an account of each inductee’s accomplishments and presented the awards with Dr. Heide and Dean Serovich.

After the honorees received their plaques, a very different kind of recognition was given to another alumnus in the department.

“As the Ph.D. program has developed over the past several years, we’ve always noticed there have been a number of firsts,” said Dr. Smith, “Those firsts have included: the first graduate, the first person to get tenure, the first person to hold a tenured position in a foreign institution. Unfortunately, sadly, we’ve also experienced another first this past year. That was the first loss of a Ph.D. graduate.”

Melissa Fenwick passed away in December 2012. She was the first doctoral student recruited and enrolled to the department’s newly-established Ph.D. program in 1997. The department said that her positive energy and enthusiasm made her an asset to the program and she will be deeply missed.

“Her dedication to research and teaching served as an example to other students and made her the kind of student you could not soon forget,” said Dr. Michael Lynch.

The ceremony concluded with the presentation of two additional awards. Dr. Max Bromley, associate emeritus professor, serves as the director of the department’s Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration program. He, along with Dr. Smith, co-founded the program and they were recognized for their “extraordinary leadership and service” in doing so.

Dr. Heide brought the ceremony to a close with hopes of seeing the new inductees again and gratitude for everyone involved. “We look forward to seeing you in the future and thank you for all your contributions---the faculty, the chairs, the students and graduates.”

A video presentation of the ceremony will become available shortly and information on all 2013 inductees is provided below. Click here for a pdf of the event program.

By Molly Alexander