Bluefield College will honor two veteran criminal justice (CRJ) professors and provide vital financial aid to CRJ students with the establishment of the Walls-Farmer Criminal Justice Scholarship.
The Walls-Farmer Criminal Justice Scholarship will pay tribute to Dr. Kelly Walls, a professor of criminal justice who has served on faculty at BC since 1998, and Dr. Kim Farmer, professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice who joined the BC faculty nearly three decades ago.
Dr. Walls served in law enforcement for 24 years before becoming a BC professor. He was a patrol officer, patrol supervisor, sergeant, lieutenant, and acting chief of police. He also served as a supervisor for special operations, K-9, detectives, and law enforcement and firearms training. In addition, he supervised and wrote policies and procedures for a federally certified jail facility and served as Special Deputy United States Marshal for nine years.
“Forty-four years ago, my career aspirations were to be the best law enforcement officer I could be,” said Dr. Walls. “To have come this far, having retired from law enforcement, taught for 20 years, seen our graduates become so successful, and now to see my name on a legacy scholarship is beyond my wildest dreams. My indebtedness to Bluefield College is beyond words.”
During his two decades on faculty at Bluefield College as an assistant professor and now associate professor of criminal justice, Dr. Walls has supervised faculty, created courses, and served as director and now consultant for BC Campus Safety. A graduate of the FBI National Academy who holds a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate in criminal justice, he also serves as a law enforcement advisor to BC criminal justice students and the school’s Title IX deputy coordinator. Now, he has a scholarship in his name to preserve his legacy.
“I can think of no greater honor than to have a scholarship established in Dr. Farmer’s and my name,” said Dr. Walls. “We both have devoted our lives to professionalism in criminal justice through education, and to have our names placed on a lasting legacy is the pinnacle of our careers. This scholarship will assist students who wish to major in criminal justice with some of the financial obligations, allowing them to concentrate more intently on their career paths of servant leadership without having as much concern and worry about finances.”
One of Dr. Walls’ most significant accomplishments as a professor was the establishment of the Professional Internship in Criminal Justice, which provides students a semester of training at Virginia’s Southwest Criminal Justice Academy. While there, students who qualify receive up to 27 college credit hours and law enforcement certification, making them much more employable upon graduation. In fact, to date, thanks to Dr. Walls’ efforts, every student who has qualified for the internship has been employed either before or upon graduation.
“I am very proud of our criminal justice programs, both traditional and online, which have received many accolades,” said Dr. Walls. “Our graduates are decision makers throughout the country’s criminal justice system at the local, state and federal levels, and even more importantly, they remain our friends and now colleagues.”
Dr. Farmer – who attended a winter term at Bluefield College in 1981 while still a high school student and later studied psychology at BC as a traditional student from the spring of 1983 to the spring of 1984 – earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from West Virginia University in 1986 before receiving her doctor of jurisprudence from the WVU College of Law in 1989. She came back to her alma mater that same year to teach criminal justice at a time when the college wasn’t even offering a criminal justice degree. In fact, she helped develop the first curriculum for BC’s criminal justice major, launched in the fall of 1990.
“I recall a very memorable day when God spoke to me in a psychology course that I was taking my freshman year at Bluefield College,” said Dr. Farmer. “As I sat in that class, I was looking at my professor and I heard God telling me, ‘This is what you want to do with your life.’ God had a plan in leading me here.”
During her 29 years with the college, Dr. Farmer also constructed BC’s original adult degree completion curriculum for criminal justice, and she continues to teach in that program in its current online format today. She also crafted a key articulation agreement with the Appalachian School of Law that facilitates admission for Bluefield’s CRJ grads. And, she is a pre-law advisor for students and the school’s Title IX coordinator, where she ensures the college’s compliance with federal regulations that protect students against sexual discrimination.
“I have been so richly blessed with the opportunity to teach at this place,” said Dr. Farmer about her career at BC, “and to be a part of so many people’s lives and educational journeys – students who have gone on to successful careers and who have continued to bless Bluefield College along the way. I am so very grateful.”
In addition to serving as chair of the Criminal Justice Department, Dr. Farmer has also served as chair of the online criminal justice program, the Division of Social Science, and the Faculty Committee.
“My most significant accomplishments have been the employment and career aspirations of my students,” she said, “seeing them graduate with honors from police academies, gaining admission to prestigious law and grad schools, serving as chief investigators in serious criminal cases, becoming partners in law firms, judges, sheriffs, wardens, and superintendents of state police academies. I’m grateful for the privilege of being a part of their lives, for all of the memories, for the wonderful examples they set for others, and for the jobs they are doing in service to others as criminal justice professionals.”
Together, Dr. Farmer and Dr. Walls designed an online curriculum for the criminal justice major and began offering the CRJ degree online in 2014. They also developed the BC criminal justice program into one of national distinction. Under their leadership it has been ranked among the top online criminal justice programs in the country by the Affordable Colleges Foundation, dubbed one of the best online colleges in Virginia by OnlineColleges.net, and named the number one school in Virginia for supporting corrections by CorrectionalOfficer.org.
“Dr. Walls and Dr. Farmer have taught and influenced me both inside and outside of the criminal justice field,” said 2013 CRJ graduate Hallie Elder, a military police petty officer in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “They are the epitome of what mentor and teacher should be. They set a fundamental benchmark that far exceeded what I ever thought I would see in higher education. Even today, I still reference my notes, textbooks, and think back to our many discussions. I use the knowledge that they shared on a daily basis, and I will never be able to thank them enough for everything they did and made possible for me.”
The Walls-Farmer Criminal Justice Scholarship in their name is designed to be an endowed scholarship, meaning once initial gifts to the scholarship fund reach the required level of $10,000, the scholarship will be considered endowed and will pay tribute to Dr. Walls and Dr. Farmer forever.
“Endowed scholarships are meant to provide financial aid for perpetuity,” said BC’s Chris Catron, director of development. “With endowed scholarships at Bluefield College, once the required minimum of $10,000 in gifts (principal) has been raised, the earned income can then be made available annually for scholarships. The principal will remain indefinitely and will continue to grow through earnings and future gifts and will ensure an everlasting tribute to Dr. Farmer and Dr. Walls.”
In fact, the scholarship is well on its way to being endowed, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, who has pledged to give up to $10,000 to the fund, but with a challenge to BC alumni, especially criminal justice grads, to collectively give another $10,000 to push the principal total to $20,000, a desired goal of Dr. Walls and Dr. Farmer.
“We’re so excited about the establishment of this new endowed scholarship for our criminal justice students and honoring the hard work of Kim and Kelly,” said Ruth Blankenship, BC’s vice president for advancement, “and we are extremely grateful for the generous donation to get us to the goal of the initial corpus of the fund. It’s encouraging to know that we can use this gift to let alumni know that their gifts will be matched dollar for dollar up to $10,000. This will definitely give the scholarship a boost.”
Candidates for the Walls-Farmer Scholarship must be a criminal justice major or minor, either in the traditional classroom or online. They must also have a strong desire to serve in a criminal justice profession – such as law enforcement, criminal law, corrections or other related fields – after graduation. Applicants must also have and maintain a 3.0 grade point average and demonstrate financial need.
“The Walls-Farmer Criminal Justice Scholarship is designed to financially assist a promising criminal justice student achieve their dreams,” said Elder, a member of the BC Alumni Association’s Board of Directors who has already contributed to the scholarship fund. “To not only be able to help a student achieve their dreams by means of this scholarship, but also to commemorate Dr. Walls and Dr. Farmer is truly a blessing. It will reward hard work and lift a burden off of a student. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate and memorialize Dr. Walls and Dr. Farmer, because that is just where their hearts are – with their students.”
Students interested in applying or gathering more information about the scholarship should contact the BC Financial Aid Office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 276-326-4215. Alumni and friends interested in donating to the scholarship fund should visit bluefield.edu/giving or contact the BC Advancement Office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 276-326-4211.
“My hope and desire is that each of our criminal justice graduates will prayerfully consider helping us in any way, large or small, in getting this scholarship endowed,” said Dr. Farmer. “Dr. Walls and I firmly believe that our graduates are a special group characterized by the fraternity of brotherhood that exists in our department and in criminal justice professions. We’re confident that they are going to participate in helping us endow this scholarship, because that is just what they are known for – giving back and helping others.”