The Office of Marketing and Communications is located in Hopkins Hall. During the academic year, our office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summer hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
By Cameron Hurst ‘19
Dr. William Elenchin admits that the field of criminology has a generalized perception.
“Many people think that criminology is ‘cops and robbers,’” said Elenchin, an associate professor of sociology and criminology program director at St. Bonaventure University. “Criminology is just the opposite. It’s inherently interdisciplinary.”
That interdisciplinary nature was on display at an anti-terrorism conference Elenchin attended, titled “Biothreats: Weapons of Mass Destructions, Pathogens and Pandemics.”
Held June 11 at Penn State, the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council event was sponsored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security and attracted proven professionals from a variety of fields: law enforcement, emergency management, firefighters, physicians, nurses, veterinarians, public health administration and education.
Paired with how versatile a criminology degree can be, Elenchin, a former military police officer and fraud investigator, also noted that the conference impressed upon him how the field has developed collaboratively since his departure for academia.
“In the past, agencies were fighting turf wars,” he said. “Traditionally, the FBI had their thing that they did. The local police did their thing. Now, a more modern approach, being driven by the events of 9/11, is that most agencies have come a long way in shedding that way of doing business.
"They work together not only with law enforcement agencies, but with hospitals and universities. This council is one of the best examples of that and shows what the field is all about today.”
The trend will only benefit students, Elenchin said.
“One of the cool things about going to that council fresh and bringing information back to the students is, for those who are interested, there are so many job opportunities in so many areas,” he said. “It doesn’t even need to be in law enforcement. It’s exciting.”
The collaboration between disciplines has come as the result of the reality of bioterrorist threats, Elenchin said.
“As one presenter, FBI special agent Tom Stewart, went through a case study, one of the things he said was, ‘You can Google how to home make these kinds of pathogens. It’s not that difficult,’” he said. “These threats are not just for the elite or necessarily the foreign adversaries; they’re homegrown. It’s internal and external and going into the healthcare field, that is a big threat obviously because of the nature of bioterrorism. It doesn’t take a lot. It’s very interesting.”
An example of this, Elenchin said, came from Samuel Shartar, the senior administrator and director of operations for Emory University’s Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR). He dealt firsthand with the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
“The presenter unpacked the events as they unfolded and had very telling images of what happened,” he said of Shartar, who accepted the first patient to be treated for the Ebola virus in the United States.
“As they brought (patients) into the hospital, it was on CNN and national news and there was borderline panic in the community,” he said. “From picking up the patients at the airport, to a caravan to get to the hospital, everyone had hazmat suits on. Luckily they were prepared for this. Every step, they had to make sure they decontaminated the plane and everything behind them. They had to be proactive.”
How might the conference inform his curriculum at St. Bonaventure? Elenchin expressed confidence in two things.
“We will continue to grow the program and develop classes in a way that highlights this interdisciplinary nature to move our program in line with the (criminology) field,” he said. “This will allow us to have special offerings. There’s a lot of room for growth.”
Elenchin said the conference also “doubled-down” his confidence in his program’s professional development.
“Our fieldwork program is required in criminology and this conference only doubled-down that decision for us,” he said. “Networking is so important as far as bringing agencies in and having that fieldwork/networking/interdisciplinary feel to the program.”
And, after having been exposed to the various bioterrorist threats discussed at the conference, Elenchin hopes to better prepare his students to fend off the threats that may come in the future.
“These threats are prevalent, they’re so real,” he said. “It’s nothing to be scared of, but it’s something that we need to have a heightened sense of. Education, coordination and prevention is being addressed through this council and needs to continue to be addressed.”
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #1 regional university value in New York and #2 in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition.
Application forms, procedures and additional information
There are many ways to experience
St. Bonaventure for yourself
Learn more about the programs that interest you