Chowan University Professor, Dr. Cicely J. Cottrell, served as Keynote Speaker
On February 3, 2018, Dr. Cicely J. Cottrell, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Chowan University, gave the keynote address at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Diversity Breakfast for the Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Benham, KY.
“This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s death. He was a pivotal advocate for African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. He began a series of peaceful protests across the country that eventually changed many laws dealing with the equality of African Americans,” stated Dr. Cottrell. She then spoke about Dr. King’s practice of moral responsibility through sit-ins and nonviolent resistance, and shared how it has impacted her, and where moral responsibility is headed next.
Dr. Cottrell continued, “As we celebrate his life and legacy, it is important that we acknowledge the institutional racism and discrimination that persists today. In many ways, institutional racism has worsened and is enforced through systems like criminal justice and educational policies and practices such as stop-and-frisk, harsh sentencing policies, and the use of armed police officers in public schools to respond to minor student misconduct.” Dr. Cottrell emphasized the great deal of compassion and mercy needed from people in positions of power that impacts one’s political, economic, and social freedoms.
Dr. Cottrell was born and raised in Harlan, Kentucky, where her interest in criminal justice began. She gained several years of experience with the Kentucky Department of Corrections, Administrative Office of Kentucky Courts, the Whitney M. Young Jr. Job Corps Center, and the United States House Committee on the Judiciary. “It was these experiences that taught me a great deal of compassion and mercy are needed when making decisions that not only impact one’s freedom, but his or her ability to acquire basic necessities to survive, such as food, water, housing, education, healthcare, communication, and transportation.”
Dr. Cottrell teaches a variety of courses at Chowan University, such as American Judicial Systems, Introduction to Criminal Justice, Principles of Law Enforcement, Theories of Criminology, Probation and Parole, Community-based Corrections, Minorities in the Criminal Justice System, and Introduction to Sociology. She has extensive professional experience in various sectors of the criminal justice system. She is the recipient of several fellowships, author of multiple presentations, and involved in numerous professional organizations to include American Society of Criminology, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, American Sociological Association, Golden Key International Honour Society, Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She is currently conducting research on the role of negative emotions that push suspended students into delinquent behavior.
Dr. Cottrell earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in sociology and criminology from Howard University, along with a certificate in women’s studies. She received her Master of Science degree in administration of justice from the University of Louisville, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Western Kentucky University. Her work is dedicated to serving the poor and disadvantaged criminal population, particularly African Americans and juveniles with a research focus on racial disparities in school suspension and juvenile delinquency, as well as discriminatory policies and practices in the criminal justice system from pre-arrest to post-release.