Stephen Brown joins WCU as applied criminology department head

Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown

Stephen E. Brown, director of the honors-in-discipline program of the criminal justice and criminology department at East Tennessee State University, will become head of Western Carolina University’s department of applied criminology, effective July 15.

Brown is completing his seventh year as director of the honors-in-discipline program of the criminal justice and criminology department at East Tennessee State University, where he also served nine years as department chair and two as interim chair.

“The questions that we need to answer about the causes of crime and how to best cope with and minimize it are extremely complex,” said Brown, who has guided student research in areas from sports activities as they relate to delinquent, deviant and criminal behaviors to racial disparity in the death penalty. “Over the years, I probably have done more with students on the topic of deterring criminal behavior than anything else.”

What initially sparked his interest in the field of criminology was a series of armed robberies in which he was the victim. They happened when Brown was a college student working the graveyard shift at gas station. Though he said he vividly remembers the feel of a screwdriver pressed against his throat, the question that haunted him was what leads someone to resort to those behaviors.

“Nearly 40 years later, I am still pursuing answers,” said Brown. “I can assure anyone that it is not an easy question.”

Brown went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Kentucky University and a doctorate from the University of Maryland. He has been a member of the Academy of Criminal Justice Science since 1978 and a member of the American Society of Criminology since 1977.

His publications include “Criminology: Explaining Crime and Its Context” and articles and chapters in more than two dozen journals and encyclopedias. He has presented more than 40 papers about his research on criminological theory, quantitative analysis, the criminal justice system and deviant behavior.

He first visited Western’s campus in 1988 as part of a review committee under the direction of the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.

“At that time, I saw a solid program working to improve itself,” said Brown. “I am excited now to have the opportunity to work with so many talented faculty members and help steer the department to new academic heights.”

Linda Seestedt-Stanford, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences, said there could not be a better time for someone with Brown’s experience, vision and administrative acumen to join the team.

“The department of applied criminology has two of the most sought out and growing majors in the college – criminal justice and emergency management,” she said. “We are positioned to expand these majors even further through online programming. I am confident that Dr. Brown will guide our excellent faculty in producing quality course offerings, supporting them in research and expanding collaborations that will enhance teaching and learning.”

Nearly 500 residential and online students are enrolled in programs offered through WCU’s applied criminology department. The public safety and security management program began in 2005 and is offered online. In addition, the online criminal justice program, which began in 2001, recently earned a No. 1 national ranking in affordability by the distance education information clearinghouse GetEducated.com.

For more information, contact the applied criminology department at (828) 227-2171 or check out the Web site for the applied criminology department.