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Alumni Spotlight Calvin Higgins, Jr.

Fall Winter 2019/2020


Calvin Higgins, Jr.

Class of 2005

Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Online

Lake Orion, Michigan

Chief of Police – Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Detroit Branch)

Calvin Higgins, Jr., ’05, knew he wanted to be a police officer when he was a child. When he hit college age, he pursued a criminal justice degree from the Ohio State University. Then the Columbus, Ohio, native moved to Largo, Florida, as a police officer. Within three years he was a detective and ready to move on to his next goal – a federal law officer.

Higgins first joined the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration where he investigated dangerous drug organizations in faraway places like Bolivia, Costa Rica, Brazil and Spain. Over time he moved into management with the DEA, but still, he wanted more.

“I am the type of person who is always looking for challenges, that is why I began running marathons and half-marathons, to challenge myself physically. But I also look for opportunities to expand my knowledge and learning,” says Higgins. When he started researching the best opportunity to earn a master’s degree in criminal justice, Tiffin University came onto his radar.

“I needed a distance-learning program because I was traveling the world as a supervisor with DEA,” he said. “I needed a program I could take with me anywhere. I started looking at programs in D.C. where I was living. Then I came across Tiffin University. I saw they were brick-and-mortar, and had an online program. I saw that the same professors taught both. That’s not always the case. It’s what I wanted.”

“I compared Tiffin to other programs and none compared. Tiffin was highly professional and well ahead of other universities that offered online programs,” he said. “In 2005, when I went through the program, Tiffin University was among the leaders in online criminal justice/criminology master’s programs. The coursework was relevant to the criminal justice issues occurring at the time. Moreover, the professors were very knowledgeable in the research of current criminal justice and criminology issues.”

His favorite memory was visiting campus. “As an online student, I was not required to visit the campus, but I chose to and I am glad that I did,” he said. “The campus was awesome, and it gave me a good visual reference when I returned to my online studies. While visiting, I met with Professor Keith Haley, one of my online professors. Professor Haley made my visit all the greater by making me feel welcomed at Tiffin University.”

Higgins earned an MS in Criminal Justice Administration degree from Tiffin University. He holds an MA in Political Science and just completed a Ph.D. in December. “TU’s online program was intense,” he said. “It was as difficult as being in a physical classroom. I had to be disciplined in my research, reading and writing.” Because of that, Higgins said he improved his skills in organizing, time management, writing and research and he believes he is a better administrator because of it.

Now Higgins is Chief of Police for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Detroit branch) and he oversees a staff of 35 officers who work around the clock to safeguard bank employees, as well as secure the property and $9 billion in assets.

Before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Federal Reserve Bank system had a “security force,” Higgins explains. After 9/11, the federal government determined that the banking system could be a serious target of terrorism. Thus, the security force became an official “police force” with the power to enforce federal laws.

Thus far, Higgins said he hasn’t had to deal with any serious threats to bank security. “What I like most about my current career path is the immediate satisfaction of preventing crime and providing a secure environment.”

On the other hand, Higgins said his experience working for the DEA proved to him that the world is complicated. “Drug investigations and operations, why people sell, use, kill and die for drugs is complicated. Therefore, our response to these issues is complicated. The education I received from Tiffin University helped me understand immediate and long-term solutions to some of these drug issues. I learned how to think critically, research, communicate and manage my time.”

Higgins was a first-generation kid—meaning, he was the first in his immediate family to attend college. “My dad and mom did not have the financial means or opportunity to attend college. However, they both instilled in me the importance of education if I wanted to improve my life and surroundings. They owned their own business and worked long hours to remove the financial barriers so that I could get a college degree if I elected to pursue it. In my senior year of high school, they informed me that our family was financially stable to pay for my college education.” Higgins said he was an average C student but a good athlete, which was enough to get through high school. “Between middle school and high school, my family moved from a low income to a middle-income area and that proved to me that a college degree would improve my life,” he said.

“The high standards of Tiffin helped me keep my standards high,” he said. To students, he says, “Never stop pursuing education. Education can occur in your everyday life or in a formal setting like Tiffin University. Wherever it may occur, never stop learning.”