MONROE — Monroe County Community College students will be able to earn bachelor of arts degrees in criminal justice from Siena Heights University without leaving the Monroe campus, starting in the fall.
Under the program announced last week, students will take such courses as criminal law, criminology, and courtroom demeanor from Siena Heights professors. They will be able to earn the MCCC associate’s degree in criminal justice, do additional coursework, and transfer up to 90 credit hours toward the 120 hours required for the bachelor’s degree.
Their four-year diploma will be from Siena Heights, even if all classes were taken at the community college campus. Students also may take criminal justice courses on Siena Heights’ campus in Adrian or through the university’s program at Jackson Community College.
This sort of agreement is nothing new. MCCC and Siena Heights have a well-established relationship, with the university offering bachelor's degrees there in other fields, including accounting, business administration, health-care management, professional communication, and psychology.
MCCC President David Nixon described the new offering as part of the community college’s effort to match skilled workers with employers. The college has offered the associate’s degree in criminal justice for a long time, he explained, but with four-year degrees, students should boost their marketability and wages.
“Employers have a shortage of skilled workers,” he said. “Each time a person upgrades his education or certificate, his wages go up. A lot of the students will be law enforcement officers looking to earn a four-year degree — deputies, troopers, conservation officers.”
He noted that MCCC’s relationship with Siena Heights was valuable “because we don’t have the resources to do this on our own.”
Elly Teunion-Smith, director of Siena Heights' criminal justice program, said local, state, and federal employers were looking for criminal justice graduates with higher levels of education.
In their comments at the program’s unveiling, Mr. Nixon and Sister Peg Albert, the Siena Heights president, called the day a significant event for both of their institutions.
Sister Peg said the criminal justice program “teaches students to see the world in shades of gray, instead of black and white, as they do when they enter it.”
She said the courses would include restorative justice, which deals with “repairing the damage done by criminal behavior.”
Siena Heights is a Catholic university dating to 1919 and sponsored by the Dominican Sisters. MCCC, founded in 1964, is a public, two-year institution that includes the Whitman Center, its satellite campus in Bedford Township.