CSUDH Introduces New School of Public Service and Justice
Director C. Augustus “Gus” Martin will lead the school, housed in the College of Business Administration and Public Policy.
CSUDH announced the formation of a new School of Public Service and Justice in Fall 2021. The school within the College of Business Administration and Public Policy (CBAPP) will be helmed by 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.
“The idea for the school has been worked on for the past three years,” says Fynnwin Prager, associate professor of public administration and one of the driving forces behind establishing the new school. “We’re excited to finally get it over the line and officially launched.”
In announcing the new school in September 2021, President Thomas Parham said, “CSUDH’s 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 new school reflects the growing importance and impact of criminal justice and public policy disciplines within CBAPP. “The school gives us a chance to elevate Criminal Justice Administration, which is enormous for an undergraduate program, with over 1,200 students enrolled. It grows every year, yet we felt it got relatively little visibility,” Prager continues.
“At CSUDH, the Criminal Justice Administration program is extremely unique. In most programs in that field, the criminal justice or criminology elements are what’s emphasized. Ours is unique in that it emphasizes criminal justice administration. It’s grown to be a hugely popular and significant program. We wanted the school to really emphasize the justice element.”
The official name of the school also emphasizes CSUDH’s focus on public service. “We want to set ourselves a little bit apart from other universities, which typically call their programs ‘public affairs.’ We want to emphasize what values we have as a faculty and across our programs,” says Prager. “The notion of public service is a key idea within the public administration field. It also overlaps with the broader mission of our university, trying to serve our community and make outreach efforts with local partners.”
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 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.”
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.”