Tough on crime; gentle with students: TCL’s Criminal Justice Instructor named Employee of the Year
TCL criminal justice instructor Michael Ricks is serious about teaching students how to fight and solve crime. In fact, he’s so good at his job that he recently was named the 2014 Beaufort Rotary Club Employee of the Year.
“His statue-like appearance yet gentle demeanor command respect from his students as well as his coworkers,” Dr. Kenneth Flick, Business & Technologies Dean, wrote in Michael Ricks’ nomination letter.
Ricks’ love for the criminal justice field started young, but it was a tragic criminal event that made him consider it as a career.
“Like many kids, I have always been fascinated with policing,” Rick said. “During my second year of college, my father was robbed and killed, and I think that is why I have spent so many years in the policing pillar of the criminal justice system,” Ricks said.
An Alabama native, Ricks spent 22 years in law enforcement including serving as Chief of Police in Moss Point, Miss. and Tuskegee, Ala., as an investigator in multiple locations and as an adjunct criminal justice instructor at The Citadel.
In July 2010, Ricks and his wife decided to make the move from Virginia and looked to Beaufort for a fresh start.
“My wife and I agreed that we did not want to move to another duty station. We fell in love with the area and it put us closer to her family in Columbia,” Ricks said.
In Ricks’ spare time, he enjoys fishing, attending church and bowling with his two youngest children, Michael and Michalle. When Ricks is not at work or spending time with his family, he devotes his time to working toward a Ph.D. in Public Safety and Leadership from Capella University.
“My school work takes up a lot of my free time but I like to spend as much time with my children as possible,” Ricks said.
Ricks already holds an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice from Georgia Military College, a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Ricks has used both his past work experience and education to reinvigorate the Criminal Justice Program at TCL.
“Mike has been able to transform a program that was struggling into one of the best programs in our Business Technologies Division,” Flick said.
Ricks believes that a strong criminal justice program not only benefits the campus but the entire community.
“The community receives a public servant who understands fairness, justice, and public service,” he said.
Ricks says that the criminal justice program at TCL provides students with a practical education that involves both academics and hands-on experience.
“We now have a better relationship with the local criminal justice agencies which provides students with practical exposure by providing them with internships, outside visitations, guest speakers and interaction,” Ricks stated.
Ricks also provides support to his students by helping them study outside of class and search for jobs after graduation.
“Mr. Ricks was the best instructor I had while [enrolled] at TCL. He was very concentrated in making sure I was excelling in all of my courses, whether he was the instructor or not,” criminal justice graduate Aaron Smith stated.
Ricks’ love for the subject matter is evident in his teaching.
“My teaching philosophy is every moment should be treated as a teachable moment,” Ricks said.
And students agree. “Ricks really enjoys teaching, perhaps more than being Chief of Police,” Smith said.
Ricks is also an avid promoter of campus safety and has been integral in spreading emergency awareness and preparedness throughout the campus.
“Mike’s leadership qualities are outstanding,” Flick said. “He is always willing and able to assist in any way that he can, especially to promote safety at the college.”
Beaufort Rotary Club Employee of the Year, criminal justice instructor, family man and safety activist – Michael Ricks is a man to admire.
“Everyone here at TCL holds Mike in high regard as do I,” Flick stated.