Oswego public justice students are exploring career opportunities, attending conferences, and meeting mentors thanks to the generosity of David Cutler ’74, the founder and executive director of the Arapaho Community Treatment Center, a residential community corrections facility in Englewood, Colo.
Cutler augmented his Public Justice Excellence Fund with an additional gift of $170,000, bringing the total of the fund to $420,000. He is motivated to help Oswego students because of his love for his alma mater, which he feels provided a great education that helped him build his successful career. “We need good leaders in corrections and law enforcement. It’s a really challenging time right now in the field,” said Cutler, who noted that the field was “shrinking,” due to a drop in crime rates and smaller budgets.
He feels motivated to support Oswego because of his own experiences. “Oswego changed my life — that’s why I really wanted to contribute back to Oswego State,” he said. “I had a great time up there and learned so much.”
Using the Cutler fund money, the public justice faculty sends eight students each year to the Criminal Justice Educators Association of New York State, where they attend presentations and seminars and take advantage of opportunities to enhance their career searches.
“Our students make an excellent impression on faculty members of other colleges and they wish they could take their students to the conference,” said Public Justice Professor Diane Brand. “But they don’t have the blessing of Mr. Cutler to provide them with that opportunity.”
In addition, Cutler’s gift funds field trips for 40 students each year to maximum security Auburn and medium security Butler correctional facilities. As a result of one-on-one interaction with the inmates and corrections officers, some students are inspired to take courses toward a career in corrections and others have gone on to graduate school in counseling to work with inmates and those with substance abuse issues.
“It was very different than the textbook or reality TV shows,” said Gaston Owen ’13, a public justice major and forensic science minor who went on the prison field trip during his first semester at Oswego. “It helps you tweak your career options and think of things you might never have thought of before.” He serves as a peer adviser for other public justice majors and is an active member of the Public Justice Club, which brings speakers to campus and sponsors trips like one this spring to Washington, D.C.
Mike Muller ’13 went to the CJEANYS conference in October, in addition to attending the prison field trips. The public justice major and forensic science minor says hearing presentations by an ex-state trooper and professors from other colleges helped him refine his future goals.
“It was great to have a real-world experience. You can read every day in a book but it’s nothing like this,” he said. “We got to sit down with people who do it every day and hear their experiences.” In addition to his participation in peer advisement and the Public Justice Club, Muller serves as a teaching assistant. At press time, he was awaiting results of a physical that would allow him to accept a job with his hometown police force in Port Jervis right after graduation.