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Criminal Justice grads are beginning of educational 'pipeline'

BIG RAPIDS - Ferris State University's School of Criminal Justice is located on its main campus in Big Rapids more than 200 miles northwest of Detroit, and its three newest alumni have never had a reason to visit it.

James Zwicker, Robert Alger and James Mietling all received bachelors of science degrees in criminal justice this December after completing a 3 + 1 program introduced in 2005 that partners Ferris with Macomb Community College. The college is the only publicly funded institution of higher education based in Macomb County, which is part of the Detroit metropolitan area and the third-most populous county in the state, with more than 830,000 residents.

"I'm ecstatic to be here," said Frank Crowe, director of Ferris' School of Criminal Justice, who, with Albert Lorenzo, Macomb's president, awarded the degrees to the three students in a ceremony at Macomb’s East Campus on Dec. 10. "Our criminal justice program was founded in 1972 and has more than 3,000 alumni, but we were missing an opportunity to serve students by being confined to Big Rapids. The opportunity for Ferris to take its program off campus is the beginning of a pipeline."

The Macomb-Ferris partnership is part of an ongoing focus to bring more meaningful degree-program options directly to the residents of Macomb County, as well as a statewide initiative to increase the percentage of residents with college credentials while building a workforce with the talent and skills necessary for success in the 21st century. The partnership allows students to take their first three years of coursework at Macomb, before completing their last year in courses taught by Ferris faculty at Macomb's Public Service Institute on its East Campus.

Two of Ferris' newest criminal justice alumni are already employed in the field. Zwicker is an officer with the Highland Park Police Department. Mietling, who had a 25-year-career with the Warren Police Department before retiring at the rank of sergeant, is manager of Advanced Police Training at Macomb's Criminal Justice Training Center.

"Macomb is proud of its collaboration with Ferris that brought this educational opportunity to southeastern Michigan," said Lorenzo. "It's an innovative program that benefits not only its graduates but the communities they pledge to protect and serve, as well."