Herb Homan brings decades of experience to Criminal Justice classes at Ashland University
A couple of times over the years, longtime friends Anne Strouth and Herb Homan talked about the possibility of him teaching some courses at Ashland University.
“I have known Herb for a very long time,” said Strouth, the director of the Criminal Justice Department at AU. “It dates back to knowing Herb when I worked for the Ohio State Highway patrol in the 1990s.”
Strouth liked that Homan could bring a lot of practical experience to students since he worked for the State Highway Patrol for more than three decades.
But nothing ever came of it.
Until this year.
“She reached out and said there had been some turnover and there were some opportunities for me to teach and asked if I might be interested,” said Homan, who retired from the State Patrol in 2022. “I explained that I was in the middle of trying to wrap up a doctoral degree, but I would be more than willing to see if I could help.”
As a visiting assistant professor for this academic year, Homan has helped by teaching four classes last semester and is instructing four more this semester.
And the “visiting” part of his title will come off next academic year as he was recently hired for a tenure-track position in the AU Criminal Justice Department.
Other than being a student, Homan hadn’t been associated much with the academic environment before joining AU.
Homan said he looked forward to finding out if he would enjoy teaching, if it would be fulfilling and if his experience in law enforcement would actually be beneficial to college students.
So far, Homan said he has loved teaching, it is very gratifying and, from his perspective, his experience has been valuable.
His 30-plus-year career in the Highway Patrol has been the valuable experience AU Criminal Justice students are seeking, Strouth said.
“They want to learn from the professionals who work in the criminal justice field,” she said. “Herb is a passionate professor who inspires our students. We are very lucky to have him here at AU.”
Homan said he really enjoys mentoring AU students.
“It’s almost like you’re working collaboratively with the student to develop them holistically not just with the subject you’re teaching,” he said. “And that part is the part I find most rewarding and most enjoyable – that holistic development of the students.”
Throughout his life, Homan has developed as a student, intertwining education with his career in law enforcement.
If everything goes as planned, Homan will graduate in August 2024 with a doctorate in organizational development through Bowling Green.
“There’s actually a reason for it,” said Homan, explaining his unique doctorate pursuit for someone with so much law enforcement experience. “My associate was in business and my bachelor’s was a specialized-studies degree in psychology at Ohio University and my master’s was in criminal justice at Bowling Green.
“When I was considering what would be the best use of my experience and my education, I viewed organizations as having the greatest opportunity to influence their employees,” he continued. “So, I wanted to take a more organizational approach to understanding how law enforcement organizations function.”
After graduating from Dalton High School in 1986, Homan began his law enforcement career as a cadet candidate and his post-high school education at Wayne College while he waited until he was old enough, 21, to join the Ohio State Highway Patrol Training Academy in Columbus.
“Certain classes you took at the Academy counted for credit through Ohio University, so you had the opportunity to continue that through Ohio University,” said Homan, whose father also worked for the State Highway Patrol for nearly three decades. “So, I worked on my bachelor’s for many years during my different assignments.”
Taking one or two classes at a time while not only working, but raising a family of two children, Homan completed his bachelor’s degree in 2014.
Much of his career was in supervision.
“So, I was Monday morning quarterbacking other peoples’ scenarios,” he said. “You learn the good ways of handling things and the not so good ways.”
Drawing from this experience, Homan likes to discuss scenarios with his students and have them do group projects as much as possible.
“Context is important,” he said. “We have to learn the fundamentals, which are important. We get that through the text book; however, being able to apply those principals into real-life contexts allows them to see how that works day-to-day, whether that’s through experiences I’ve had or relating them to current events.”
Leeann Harker, a student in Homan’s Intro to Criminal Justice class last semester, said she was grateful to have Homan as a teacher because he made the class interactive, fun and easy to learn.
“Since Mr. Homan is a retired state trooper, he has so much knowledge to share about his time in law enforcement and has many connections to help us learn about other areas in the criminal justice field,” Harker said. “He brings a unique and firsthand perspective to all our topics in class because he has witnessed or gone through them himself.”
Another student in Homan’s Intro to Criminal Justice class last semester, Ryan Brown said he enjoyed Homan’s class for multiple reasons: Homan is a very down-to-earth guy who actually cares about his students, his group work prepares the students for the real world and he has many years of experience in the criminal justice field.
“I think Professor Homan having multiple years in the criminal justice is a good thing for the class because it allows him to have real-world examples for us that he’s experienced firsthand,” Brown said. “It also allows him to tell interesting stories about what he’s seen and done.
“I think Professor Homan is an outstanding teacher and an even better person/role model,” Brown added.
With Strouth emphasizing that the department needs to be connecting students with people in the field, Homan came up with an informational fair event through the university’s Criminal Justice Club where 10 professionals from a variety of law enforcement areas visited campus to talk with AU students about their careers.
Since his wife of 34 years, Sue, also works for AU in the Admissions Department, he worked with her to bring criminal justice students from Pioneer Career Center in Shelby to the university for the event, too, for almost 100 students participating.
Developing future leaders in law enforcement is something Homan said he’s privileged to be a part of at Ashland University.
“Everyone starts out in the field level, but with their education, they are eventually going to be the leaders who are going to make policies and direct organizations,” he said. “That’s the hope and the optimism I see teaching.”