Criminal Justice alumni reunite at Vi and Paul Loo Student Center
Dr. Greg Mark makes it clear that Criminal Justice reunions involve more than just those who may have been one-time dorm mates or who may have taken classes together. Because attendees come from varied disciplines with different majors, the event holds a lot more meaning and makes for a qualitatively powerful experience, according to Mark.
“There’s lots of spirit and camaraderie,” says Mark, a former Criminal Justice professor with Chaminade from 1977-1989. “I’ve been involved with a couple of reunions, one eight years ago at The Willows and a second on campus, which took place right before COVID.”
When Mark taught at Chaminade, the program was called Justice Management until he took over the chairmanship of the department. Because he obtained his doctorate in Criminology—a degree not many people in the country held at the time—and simultaneously taught Ethnic Studies, the then young 20-something-year-old professor decided to change the name to Criminal Justice, which was more accurately reflective of what they were teaching at Chaminade.
“I took fragments of Management Justice and developed a criminology curriculum,” says Mark, who recently attended a Criminal Justice mini reunion held at the Vi and Paul Loo Student Center on campus. “It was a very exciting time to be part of the Chaminade faculty.”
A Criminal Justice major who graduated in 1986, Frank Okamura remembers taking Mark’s Criminal Justice Agencies class and describing him as fair and just like “one of us.” This may be true since some of the students—like Okamura, already a father of two and working as a U.S. Customs Service Inspector and bartender—were closer in age to Mark.
“I think he (Mark) felt sorry for me because he named me ‘Outstanding Student’ or something like that,” laughs Okamura, who also attended the recent reunion on campus and had a chance to spend some time with his former professor. “I really enjoyed his class, which provided me a better understanding of the different law enforcement agencies.”
A tight-knit group, Criminal Justice alumni members will often socially meet either for lunch or dinner, reminiscing about their days as Silverswords, updating each other on their kids and grandkids, and their achievements since graduation.
“During my time at Chaminade, we did so many things together, which brought us closer together,” says Mark, referring to students and faculty. “There was a lot of aloha among people in the department and it was a dynamic time.”
At the mini reunion, Okamura was impressed that Chaminade President, Dr. Lynn Babington, had showed up to welcome them back to campus, making them all feel like they were home.
“Chaminade provided me with a path that I would have never known,” says the 62-year-old retiree and grandfather of five grandkids. “Whenever I needed help, my professors were always there; they were always so supportive and attentive. I am just so appreciative and grateful for my time there.”
Asked if they plan to attend the October Silversword Reunion, Okamura and Mark unhesitatingly said “Yes.” “It will be another chance to talk about each other and some of the work we did together,” Mark says. “Teaching at Chaminade was a great experience. It’s where I grew up professionally, and it’s where I developed my academic and administrative skills.”