Seven top law enforcement officials in the metro-east have one thing in common on their resumes: They all hold degrees from Lindenwood University-Belleville.
Local police leaders who have graduated from Lindenwood Belleville include
- Belleville Police Department Chief William Clay
- Caseyville Police Department Chief Thomas Coppotelli
- Fairview Heights Police Department Chief Nick Gailius
- Glen Carbon Police Department Chief Todd Link
- Clair County Sheriff Richard Watson
- Shiloh Police Department Chief Richard Wittenauer
- Illinois State Police Dist. 19 Commander Derek Wise
Link, Watson, Wittenauer, and Wise earned Master of Science degrees in criminal justice administration, while Clay and Gailius earned MBA degrees and Coppotelli earned a Master of Science degree in human resources. According to Interim Dean of Students Dr. Thomas Trice, a retired captain with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, many other Lindenwood Belleville graduates hold high ranks within the chain of command at local police agencies.
Watson, who began his law enforcement career nearly 40 years ago in 1978, said he was repeatedly asked by younger classmates what he hoped to learn at Lindenwood Belleville after his many years of experience?
“One reason I chose to go to Lindenwood Belleville is because it is local, so it was an easy commute,” said Watson. “But I also chose Lindenwood Belleville because the instructors are practitioners in my field. They have lawyers, judges, and U.S. attorneys, people with real experience in the field teaching there. It was very interesting to take their classes, and I’m glad I did it, because I truly learned a lot. I see the benefits every day.”
Gailius said he sought an MBA because, beyond the work of solving crimes and enforcing the law, running a police department is like running a business.
“A police chief is in a leadership position that in many ways isn’t much different than a leadership position in the business world,” said Gailius. “We have human resources and personnel issues, and we have a $7 million annual budget that has to be carefully managed. My MBA is definitely a benefit, and I am a better chief for having it.”
Dr. Cindy Manjounes, campus dean for Accelerated Degree Programs, said it was important to create degree programs that allow area officers the opportunity to get their education while still allowing them to do their jobs.
“The flexibility of our degrees fits with the sometimes-unpredictable lives of our law enforcement community,” said Manjounes. “These men and women understand the value of education in helping them to be the best they can be in their positions.
“I feel truly honored and blessed that so many have gone through our ADP programs. “I have been fortunate to get to know many of them, and the level of their character and integrity as well as their determination to make our communities better places is, indeed, commendable. The value of their experiences that they add to classroom discussions as well as their support and referral of others to our programs is testament to the support we have within the law enforcement community.”
Manjounes said Lindenwood Belleville is in the process of adding to its ADP offerings to help working adults reach their education and career goals.
“I am truly excited about what the future holds for our program with some planned curriculum enhancements, and we are consistently working hard to assure the continued value of the program to our students as well as our community,” Manjounes said.