The Department of Criminal Justice at The University of Texas at El Paso traces its history to the early 1970s. Founded by Dr. Joseph B. Graves, Professor in the Department of Political Science, the CJ program received Law Enforcement Assistance Administration funding in 1970 to offer 5 classes to 225 students interested in becoming law enforcement officers. Dr. Graves expanded those initial classes to propose a Baccalaureate degree program, which was a model that paralleled many other programs also in development during this same time at other U.S. universities. In 1973, Dr. Graves received approval from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education, acknowledging that UTEP's program had met state standards. The first class to graduate with their bachelors’ degree in criminal justice was in May 1974. Educators and judges who held extensive knowledge in the field taught the courses. Some of the more notable instructors and the courses they taught include:
- Honorable Sam Callan, 205th District Court of El Paso, taught Criminal Procedures and Evidence (CRIJ 3205).
- Honorable Edward Marguez, 65th District Court, taught Police Role in Crime and Delinquency (CRIJ 3303).
- Warden Riggsby, La Tuna Correctional Facility, taught Penology (CRIJ 3305).
- Chester McLaughlin, Chief Federal Probation Officer for West Texas, taught Probation and Parole (CRIJ 3306).
- Ernest A. Guinn Jr.,taught Introduction to Criminal Justice (CRIJ 3101) and Police Community Relations (CRIJ 3304)
- Dr. Joseph Graves taught Constitutional Law (POLS 3328) and Legal Aspects of Law Enforcement (CRIJ 3200).
TIMELINE OF NOTABLE EVENTS
1970-1973: UTEP applies for federal funding through the Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP)
1971: B.A. in Law Enforcement degree proposed through LEEP (proposal denied)
1972: UTEP Dept. of Political Science agrees to sponsor five CJ courses
1973 (April 19): B.S. in Criminal Justice approved by UT Board of Regents
(October 31): B.S. in Criminal Justice approved by Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
CJ Degree program administered under the Dept. of Political Science
Dr. Joseph Graves Becomes the first CJ program director
1974: (May) First CJ degree graduating class
1975: (Fall) 275 CJ majors, two full-time and five part-time faculty
1978: (Fall) 569 CJ majors, three full-time and six part-time faculty
Department of Criminal Justice established as an independent department at UTEP
1979: Five graduate CJ classes added to the catalog under the MPA degree program
1981: LEEP/LEAA funding ends in FY 1981-1982
1982: The Department of CJ is administratively restructured as a program under the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work (where the program remained for 30 years)
1986: Minor in Criminal Justice is approved
1987: Bachelor of Science degree is replaced by a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice; 425 majors in CJ program
1990: CJ program was restructured with joint appointments (most faculty had tenure homes outside CJ)
1992: Dr. Roy Malpass (Psychology Dept) becomes CJ program director until 2005
1994: 650 CJ majors
2006: Dr. Fernando Rodriguez (Sociology Dept) becomes CJ program director until 2011
2012: Homeland Security class curriculum leaves CJ and is added to the INSS program
Criminal Justice was established a second time as an independent department, with Dr. Mary Cuadrado as Dept chair.
2014: Criminal Justice becomes UTEP's first 100% online degree program for undergraduate majors
2016: Dr. Leanne Alarid becomes department chair
2017: The Department moves from the Liberal Arts Building to newly renovated space in Education Building, Suite 111
2019: The Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice degree is approved. The first cohort of students enter Fall 2019.
August, 2019: The National Security Studies Institute faculty and all its degree programs are merged under the Department of Criminal Justice.