By: Shannon Smith
Michael Harrington, who joined the campus in fall 2011 as a new professor in the Criminal Justice Department, is looking forward to learning more about the department and about Northern Michigan University as a whole in order to plan for what is ahead in the next few years.
Michael states that he had “been interested in NMU for a long time” ever since looking at schools in order to further expand his own education. A few factors that especially attracted him to Northern were the extensive master’s program, the work provided to graduate and undergraduate students, and the online Loss Prevention Management program that is almost exclusive to NMU.
Among his previous jobs, Michael was a jail administrator for six years in Waushara County, WI and worked in the Wisconsin prison systems for two years. He also managed inmate programs for three and a half years at the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin.
Maintaining his interest in the corrections field, Michael mentions that he would like to become more involved in the prison system here, hoping to develop an even stronger relationship between the correctional facilities in Marquette and the Criminal Justice Department. “It’s great when…they can see the NMU Criminal Justice Department as a resource.”
Hoping to become involved not only in the corrections field in Marquette, Michael would also like to further advance partnerships with other local organizations in the community, which would provide an excellent research asset to students and help them to become more involved throughout their schooling. As Michael states, “[The students] make really important contacts,” when engaged in opportunities such as this. Making these interactions with the community would allow students to build a foundation for their future career or even a master’s degree if they desire to continue their education. “That’s what happened to me… [and]…that’s what I want to do for students.”
Originally, out of curiosity, and just taking a college introductory course in criminal justice, Michael soon entered the CJ field thinking solely about becoming a police officer, as many other students are inclined to do as well. However, driven by the desire to learn more about the field of criminal justice, Michael decided to pursue a career in teaching. Shifting from the environment of corrections to one of teaching, Michael explains how the experience he gained from working in the criminal justice system has been quite beneficial and has given him valuable background knowledge in the classroom.
Before coming to Northern, Michael gained previous experience as a professor by instructing at Texas A&M International University from 2009 to 2011. Prior to that, he spent one year teaching at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
For students that are currently in his classes at NMU, he gives some tips, mentioning that they should be diligent in attending class every day and “realize that I’m accessible and approachable” if students are having trouble with the coursework. In fact, Michael would like to be remembered as a professor that is “knowledgeable, interesting, and accessible,” which he has certainly proven to be in his time here already.
Growing up near Milwaukee, Michael remained in the area and attended the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in 1991 and his Master’s degree of Criminal Justice in 1995. He is currently finishing his Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
After coming to Marquette, Michael has noticed that this area is noticeably “greener, both in landscape and lifestyle,” which is good news, because he enjoys hiking, biking , and golfing, and Marquette has plenty of opportunities for all three of those activities.
Michael has one daughter, Rachael, twin sons, Kaelen and Keaton, and two granddaughters, Jenna and Reilly. He says that his kids have taught him a lot and have kept him centered, causing him to value family to a great degree. Also, he would like to thank his girlfriend, Mary, who was able to support and encourage him throughout his doctorate studies and was the rock that he needed during that time.
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