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College of Arts & Sciences

Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society

Alpha Phi Sigma

The mission of Alpha Phi Sigma is the promotion of critical thinking, rigorous scholarship, life-long learning, and the elevation of the ethical standards of the criminal justice professions.

Membership Criteria

Sociology students who qualify can become life-long members of the Delta Mu Chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, the National Honor Society for Criminal Justice. Members join with thousands of others who identify nationally as successful students of criminal justice and criminology.

To become a member, several criteria must be met. The eligible student must be a Sociology-Criminology major of junior standing or more and must hold at least a 3.2 GPA. The one-time cost of joining Alpha Phi Sigma is $50. Students interested in Alpha Phi Sigma can contact Dr. Rebecca Collins for more information.

History of Alpha Phi Sigma

The origins of Alpha Phi Sigma lie in the transformations of policing that occurred during the first half of the 20th century. Individuals like August Vollmer, the Town Marshall of Berkeley, CA, sought not only to rationalize policing, by developing academic programs of study for police administrators, but also to professionalize policing by stressing the need for service, altruism, and ethical codes of conduct among practitioners in addition to scientific study. So it was that when Vollmer's protégé, Dr. Vivian Anderson Leonard, was invited to establish a pioneering Police Science program at Washington State University in 1941, he saw the creation of an honorary society there as a necessary and essential aspect of criminal justice education. Leonard worked with 17 Police Science students to create Alpha Phi Sigma in 1942. Glenn Hill was elected at its first president, and a committee of students drafted its founding constitution and by-laws designed to promote excellence in scholarship and performance.

Alpha Phi Sigma's transformation from a police science honorary to an honorary for those who study all aspects of crime, law, and justice more generally occurred in the 1960s and '70s. President Johnson's historical crime commission of the mid-1960s was convened to promote scientific research in criminal justice and encouraged the creation of criminal justice programs as rigorous academic disciplines. A federal agency, the Law Enforcement Assistance Association (which is today known as the National Institute of Justice) was created to promote the spread of criminal justice research and education, and the major professional society for criminal justice research renamed itself from the International Association of Police Professors to the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. In 1976, this professional body stipulated that Alpha Phi Sigma was to serve as the National Criminal Justice Honor Society, and its chapters increased from 14 to more than 250. Ohio University is the Delta Mu chapter, and its first members were initiated in 2003.

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