Former School Director Creates New ASU Scholarship

The Story of Scott Decker and the Decker Family Scholarship

A Passion for Building

Scott Decker, Arizona State University (ASU) Foundation Professor emeritus, left his position as chair of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) to build a top-rated criminal justice program at ASU. Decker discovered that he preferred building things over managing them. This preference prompted him and his wife to establish the Decker Family Scholarship for ASU juniors and seniors pursuing a career in criminal justice, law enforcement, probation or parole, corrections, juvenile justice, or public service.

Building a Top-Rated School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

At ASU, Decker served as the school’s first director, a position he held from 2006 to 2014. During his tenure, he oversaw the creation of a criminology and criminal justice PhD program, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. The ASU program is now one of the top-rated schools of criminology and criminal justice in the country.

A Journey of Learning

Decker’s journey began as an undergraduate student at DePauw University in Indiana. There, he asked his criminology professor about conducting interviews inside prisons. This led to an expedition into the Indiana Boys School correctional institution for adolescent boys. Decker learned more from observing rather than conducting interviews or collecting data. He visited 27 correctional facilities throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe throughout his career.

A Legacy of Giving Back

The Decker Family Scholarship is open to ASU juniors or seniors who intend to pursue a career in criminal justice or public service roles. The scholarship will provide funds for participants to engage with the community, participate in a conference, or support their current activities. Decker and his wife, JoAnn, who both received their education from public universities, highly value internships and service learning opportunities and want to provide such opportunities through the scholarship program.


Scott Decker’s legacy in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU will forever be recognized. Decker had a passion for building that led him to leave UMSL and establish a top-rated program in criminal justice at ASU. His experiences as an undergraduate and his time as department chair at UMSL created the foundation for the Decker Family Scholarship. The scholarship seeks to provide juniors and seniors with resources to further their educational experiences and pursue a career in criminal justice or public service.

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