The College of Business Administration and Public Policy’s new School of Public Service and Justice has named its first director – C. Augustus “Gus” Martin, professor of criminal justice administration.
A nationally recognized expert on terrorism, homeland security, and criminal justice, Martin has been with the university since 2001. He has served CSUDH in a variety of roles, including associate vice president for faculty affairs and associate vice president for human resources management. Martin has authored several books on terrorism, including Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues, now in its seventh edition (2020), and Understanding Homeland Security, now in its third edition (2019).
In announcing the new school in September 2021, President Thomas Parham said, “The School of Public Service and Justice (SPSJ) will focus on promoting ethical public service and justice to address our nation’s ongoing societal challenges such as poverty, homelessness, and affirming the rights of historically marginalized populations. The level of systemic intervention required to address these dilemmas mandate that we bring a greater intentionality around public service and social justice. This new school will prepare the Toro Nation to meet this moment and address these challenges.”
The School of Public Service and Justice is now the home of the public administration and criminal justice administration degree programs that have traditionally been part of the College of Business Administration and Public Policy (CBAPP). “You can consider the school to be an umbrella for our current programs, undergraduate degrees as well as master’s programs,” says Martin, adding that he envisions adding other master’s level programs to the school. “The sky’s the limit. We are going to become quite proactive in promoting other avenues and other degrees in the school.”
Fynnwin Prager, associate professor of public administration and co-director of the South Bay Economics Institute at CSUDH, was one of the driving forces behind establishing the new school, which reflects the growing importance and impact of criminal justice and public policy disciplines within CBAPP. “The school gives us a chance to elevate the criminal justice program, which is enormous for an undergraduate program in that discipline, with over 1,200 students enrolled,” says Prager. “It grows every year, yet we felt it got relatively little visibility.”
“At CSUDH, the Criminal Justice Administration program is extremely unique,” adds Prager. While most programs in the field focus primarily on the criminal justice or criminology elements, CSUDH’s program emphasizes the administrative side of criminal justice. “It’s grown to be a hugely popular and significant program. We wanted the school to really emphasize the justice element,” he says.
The college’s vision for the new school is that it will build on their relationships with other local institutions—from developing more community partnerships and sponsorship opportunities to developing grants to support Toro students. “We would love to expand opportunities for our students to do meaningful work out in the community, to improve their internship and externship opportunities, and also to conduct research in these public-facing organizations that we collaborate with,” says Prager.
Martin adds, “Our mission is to promote the education and training of our students within the realm of public service. With the social unrest that we’ve seen recently, we believe that there’s a role for government and the public sector to bring an ethical vision to bear, to try and stop or reduce some of the disturbing scenes we’ve seen in the last couple of years. There’s a role for the public sector, and there’s a role for government—and we can provide the training and education for our students to step up and step into these roles.”