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Patricia Cornwell, Internationally Known #1 New York Times Bestselling Crime Writer, Donates $1 Million to John Jay College of Criminal Justice - Gift Will Establish New Cutting-Edge Crime Scene Academy

New York, NY February 15, 2008 -- John Jay College of Criminal Justice announced today a $1 million gift from Patricia Cornwell, America’s premier crime writer, to establish a Crime Scene Academy that will become the first and only international center for crime scene training for professionals, undergraduate and graduate degree students, as well as interested members of the general public.  

The award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author of both fiction (including her current #1 bestseller, Book of the Dead) and nonfiction (including her #1 bestseller, Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper), Patricia Cornwell has been published in more than thirty-five countries and her work has been translated into thirty-two languages.   She has dedicated herself to advancing the boundaries of forensic science and medicine while helping to solve celebrated historic mysteries.

In accepting this gift, President Travis said, “Patricia Cornwell, who is noted for her realistic portrayal of forensic investigations and law enforcement, has been educating millions of devoted fans about forensic science and medicine through her #1 bestselling crime novels for more than 15 years.   This makes her the perfect partner for John Jay College, which has long been recognized as the premier center for forensic study in the United States.   This generous gift from Ms. Cornwell will allow us to address the critical need to enhance the quality of crime scene analysis around the country.   It will also further realize our mission of providing students with the latest innovations in modern forensics and their applications in crime scene investigations and analysis.   The Crime Scene Academy will serve a national constituency of law enforcement personnel.”

Patricia Cornwell commented, “ I’ve always respected and admired law enforcement professionals, and am intimately aware of the dangers and difficulties of their jobs. Police, forensic scientists and pathologists, and so many others, have been unfailingly generous in sharing their expertise with me.   And now it is my privilege to give something back. The greatest gift is knowledge, and there’s no better place to get it than John Jay College. ”

Widely recognized and praised for her meticulous research and insistence on accuracy in every detail, especially in forensic medicine and law enforcement procedures, in May 2007 Ms. Cornwell was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who cited her for enlightening society through her “commitment to the principles of academic excellence and understanding for all.”  

The Crime Scene Academy will not only help college undergraduates pursuing law enforcement careers but also provide a resource for K through 12 science teachers who would like to introduce the study of forensics into their curriculum.   The Crime Scene Academy will have five primary components:

Cornwell Fellows Program

  • This semi-annual Cornwell Fellowship Program in crime scene decision-making will use the current public fascination with such investigations as an opportunity to teach not only cutting-edge technology and techniques but also fundamental scientific thinking and critical thinking to crime-scene scientists, senior investigators, prosecutors, medical examiner’s personnel and others.   From across the country, law enforcement professionals engaged in crime scene analysis will be recruited and brought to John Jay to learn the latest advances in crime scene investigation and set the standards necessary for modernizing the practice.   Over time, this network of Cornwell Fellows will create a national cohort that will assume leadership roles in the evolution of the forensic sciences community.

Police Leadership Program

  • Today’s investigative environment demands that law-enforcement leaders possess a strong familiarity with issues related to DNA evidence, eyewitness identification procedures, false confessions and video-taped investigations, crime lab credibility, and initiatives that rely on forensic research such as the Innocence Project.   The Crime Scene Academy will host a series of weeklong symposiums for senior executives in law enforcement to foster better understanding of the management of a criminal case from the crime scene through the investigative and adjudicative processes.   This program will promote the interaction of police executives with faculty experts in forensic science, psychology, law and police science.   The goal of the Leadership Academy will be to strengthen the ability of law enforcement executives to promote the development of a professional approach to crime scene investigations in their agencies.

Law Enforcement and/or Crime Scene Laboratory Training Modules

  • With less than 1 percent of forensic laboratory budgets devoted to training, the need for college-level instruction in state-of-the-art crime-scene investigation techniques is crucial.   Training modules for police developed by the Crime Scene Academy beginning in Fall 2008 will provide cross training to laboratory analysts and examiners in forensic microscopy, firearms/toolmarks, pattern evidence, trace evidence, toxicology, controlled substance analysis and molecular biology.   In addition, to insure national dissemination of these training modules, the Academy will develop a train-the-trainers program supplemented by online training.

Post-Baccalaureate Forensic Science Certificate Program

  • Since a graduate degree in forensic science is not a requirement for employment in most laboratories and student interest in courses on crime scene investigation is at an all time high, John Jay will implement an intensive 10-week summer certificate program that will give students with undergraduate degrees in the natural sciences the comprehensive training in forensic science and criminalistics they need to compete for their first jobs at forensic laboratories.   Program graduates would be more competitive in obtaining entry-level employment in forensic laboratories.

K-12 Teacher Programs/Continuing Education Public Programs  

  • John Jay’s Department of Sciences already provides a weeklong training session for K-12 science teachers that incorporates the Dolan DNA Learning Center material, developed at Cold Spring Harbor into the curricula.   This program combines basic molecular biology, bioinformatics, etc. with crime scene protocols including sketching and measuring the crime scene, and documenting physical evidence.   The program will place a special emphasis on DNA typing, fingerprint enhancement techniques and ballistics.   The goal is to capture the student interest in crime scene investigations to increase the appeal of the public school science curriculum. 
  • Middle-school students will also have a chance to participate in crime-scene investigation training through the Crime Scene Academy.  
  • A Crime Scene Academy will also sponsor a series of courses on the field that will be open to the public, including, as possible topics, The Value of Eyewitness Evidence; Lessons Learned from Exoneration Cases; The Changing Role of Science in Criminal Investigations.  

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice o f The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations.   In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit