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Instructor presents paper at famed Oxford University
Photos and Story by James Hill
A few years back, Warren Cook wasn’t sure what the approaching man was going to do. "That’s him!" he heard the man say. "That’s the guy right there!"
Cook has more than 38 years of practical experience in criminal justice, including work in corrections positions for Multnomah and Washington counties. He has dealt with many incarcerated people and understood that some would be free someday and might give him trouble if they were to meet again.
"I was thinking to myself, ‘Oh, gosh, I don’t need this today,’" Cook recalled. "He was a gentleman I had fought with a number of times at the booking center. But he told me I had talked him into getting a GED. Now, he was the director of maintenance at a local university. He thanked me for getting him back on the right road."
It’s just one example of how Cook treats his job and the people around him. He has taught at PCC for more than 25 years and has developed several courses that prepare students for careers in the field.
"I wanted to help people," Cook said. "Criminal justice has been really good to me. The key is to not take advantage of your power, and treat people with dignity."
Because of his long-standing reputation in criminal justice studies, he was nominated to attend the criminal law roundtable at the famed Oxford University this summer. He presented a paper titled, "Personal preparation for Successful Criminal Justice Staff," a look at his approach to instructing students in the field.
"It was most humbling," Cook said. "To be able to present at Oxford is quintessential for a professor. Oxford University is a historic meeting place for presidents, prime ministers and chancellors."
Cook stayed at Lincoln College, one of 37 colleges at Oxford. He was struck by the unique differences to the approach to education at the prestigious university.
"The most notable difference is the use of dons (a head or fellow of a program) rather than the lecture," Cook said. "The students meet with the dons weekly to get debriefed on assignments and to be handed new ones. At some point, the students meet a board of scholars and based on that interview they are given degrees."
His Oxford presentation covered his class "Introduction to Professions in Criminal Justice" or CJ 100, at the Cascade Campus. The class portfolio accounts for 60 percent of the students’ grade as they move into the criminal justice program. The class itself is unique in that it teaches students how to conduct criminal background, driving record, credit history, academic history and citizenship checks, not on test subjects but on themselves. In the process, they build a portfolio that reflects criminal justice requirements, personal skills and knowledge of the profession as they complete their checks.
"The reason is that if they have a felony on their record they can’t work in criminal justice positions in Oregon," Cook said. He explains that in other programs "some have found themselves set to graduate and suddenly realize that they had a felony or a medical condition that stops them from moving on to a job. With this class, they find out immediately if they are right for criminal justice."
For more information, call the Criminal Justice program at 503-978-5236.