CCPS Alumni Spotlight: Willie Rowell

By Megan Waterman

“I will kick anybody’s butt that doesn’t have a college degree,” Willie Rowell emphatically states when asked about the importance of a college education. Rowell’s avid dedication to education is apparent upon first speaking to him. “If any of my agents came through without a degree, the first thing I did was enroll them in school.”

Willie Joe Rowell grew up in the Mohave Desert during the 1950s. Though surrounded by dry air, dry ground, and dry heat, Rowell had one favorite pastime in his hometown. “I liked the fact that I could go from the lowest point to the highest point in the Western hemisphere within an hour.” This adventurous spirit led Rowell to his college years at Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii. In school, he attempted to play sports he had once enjoyed in high school: football, baseball, and the like. To his dismay, Rowell made the upsetting realization that sports were no longer a sport. Sports equaled business. He left playing sports behind, but would eventually return to the field as a soccer coach later in life.

In 1964, Rowell dropped out of school and was drafted into the Armed Forces. However, Rowell’s lack of schooling did not last long. He went back to college and completed his degree while still in the military. This college education in addition to his military training (conducted by the creators of the behavioral analysis FBI program) brought Rowell to Fort Leonard Wood where he became the first regimental CW5 senior CID agent. This occupation revolves around crime-scene analysis, otherwise known as “forensics.” A day in his life could be compared to an episode of CSI, though Rowell was interested in this field before such shows became common on prime-time.

Rowell believes he is “working for God, giving a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. The police officer is the first line of defense on the street. You’ve got to have honesty and integrity. And you must be able to understand why good people do bad things.”

His beliefs led him to not only serve as part of a police force, but to teach Drury CCPS classes the skills needed to gain college degrees in psychology, sociology, and criminal justice. Courses Rowell has taught at Drury include: Domestic Violence, Deviant Social Behavior, Ritualistic Investigation, Ethics in Law Enforcement, and Signs & Symptoms of Child Abuse, among many others.  His method is to teach his students the three Cs: cops, courts, and corrections. Rowell refuses to let a student fail- “if you fail a student, chances are, you lose their entire college education. The student will most likely drop out.” His teaching style revolves around patience with students and keeping the language of the class at the students’ level.

Though Willie Rowell has played sports, gone to school, served his country, much like many other men in America, he brings a love education into society. He is solid in his belief that “the future is in education.” Though Rowell retired from the military in 2002, he continues to teach Drury CCPS classes.