Now in her eighth year at Shippensburg University, Stephanie Jirard, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, is about to go back to the courtroom. Having been a long-time criminal trial attorney before she joined Shippensburg faculty, she brought her professional experience to life in the classroom and wrote (and uses) her own criminal law textbook to reflect the reality – not just the theory – of working in the criminal justice system. She has published on divergent topics from the lack of media coverage for missing women and girls of color to the legal consequences of sex scandals in American politics. Staying fresh in the field is the hallmark of Jirard’s teaching style and one that resonates well with students.
Here are five questions with Shippensburg professor Stephanie Jirard:
Where are you from? Where did you attend college and graduate school?
I am originally from Boston, studied history at Cornell and received my J.D. from Boston College Law School. I am currently a graduate student in Shippensburg’s Applied History program and just completed an internship at the Cumberland County (PA) Historical Society where I wrote for their journal a piece on the United States Colored Troops. I have active law licenses in Massachusetts, Louisiana and Missouri.
How did you decide to become a professor?
Before I came to Shippensburg I had been: a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps; a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice (Civil Division); a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office; an assistant public defender at the Federal Public Defender’s Office; and a death-penalty defense lawyer with the Missouri Public Defender’s Capital Litigation Unit. While in Missouri I started to guest lecture at Mizzou and eventually made the transition to full-time teaching at Ship.
How did you end up at Shippensburg University?
Shippensburg and its Criminal Justice Department are devoted to experiential learning and, with my background, I was a perfect fit for the University and Department. For my upcoming sabbatical, I will volunteer at Louisiana’s Capital Assistance Litigation Center in New Orleans to both help defend the poor and reinvigorate my teaching with reality.
What’s your favorite thing about teaching at Shippensburg?
My favorite part of teaching is grading comprehensive final essay exams. I am continually impressed with my students’ ability to conduct sophisticated legal analysis after only a 15-week semester. Watching my students grow intellectually and personally is immensely satisfying and keeps me coming back.
Why did you decide to join APSCUF?
I joined APSCUF on my first day on faculty, and in my first year I was elected to the Executive Committee as Secretary, a position I held for four years. During my tenure at Ship, I have been rewarded by the friendship and support only APSCUF can offer.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a monthly blog series highlighting the accomplishments of APSCUF faculty members and coaches. Last month we featured WCU coach Amy Cohen. If you know of an APSCUF member with a great story to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestion!