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Homeland Security

MacMurray Homeland Security Student experiences the weight of donning special bomb squad gear.

The MacMurray College homeland security degree program is aimed at creating a foundation that prepares graduates to play an integral role in maintaining a safe, secure, and resilient homeland. This program of study provides graduates with a firm foundation in the security issues, politics, and practices of the homeland security field. Students also learn policies and cultures of terrorism, operations during and after an emergency, and the best practices of coping with a pending emergency. Our program takes students through a well-rounded and planned curriculum that prepares them to take up the vital role of homeland security through a wide range of activities ranging from disaster preparedness, infrastructure management, counterintelligence, and emergency management.

This is an ever-evolving field, and students who earn this degree have a head start in the pursuit of a multitude of careers in law enforcement, emergency management, business continuity, crisis management, homeland security among other private and public security roles.

What makes our program different from others?

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the MacMurray College homeland security degree program, graduates are expected to show academic and professional proficiency in the following:

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Opportunities for Students

Career Preparation

Students who take advantage of all that MacMurray offers are better prepared to enter their chosen field, and quickly begin a rewarding and accomplished professional career in criminal justice or homeland security.

MacMurray graduates have been hired by such agencies as the Springfield Police Department, the Illinois Department of Corrections, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Collaboration with Homeland Security Agencies

MacMurray College's homeland security staff utilizes extensive contacts developed from their years of professional service to augment the program, courses, and student opportunities. This allows the students to learn from hard-earned, unique, real-life experiences which they can then combine with their theoretical knowledge in the professional field upon graduation. Additionally, the MacMurray homeland security program is aligned with the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute at the University of Illinois. (U of I is designated as a Department of Homeland Security Center for Excellence).

The University and Agency Partnership Initiative (UAPI)

This initiative brings together institutions nationwide dedicated to advancing homeland security education. This effort seeks to increase the number and diversity of students receiving homeland security education, accelerate the establishment of high-quality academic programs, and provide opportunities for collaboration that create an intellectual multiplier effect that furthers the study of homeland security.

The Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS)

Through this partnership, MacMurray makes its curriculum, distance learning technology, Homeland Security Digital Library, and all other resources available to other members. In return, partners share their curriculum and specialized expertise with UAPI partners. This provides a cost-effective way to educate thousands of students beyond the NPS campus by reducing the time and resources required for universities and agencies to build their own curricula and programs from scratch. It also addresses critical research issues, accelerates the development of the homeland security academic discipline, and enhances academic knowledge to support the nation's security efforts.


Homeland security students are required to attend at least one internship before graduation, and possibly as many as three. This opportunity allows a student to work directly for the host agency, building contacts and gaining invaluable real-world, professional experience. The internship expands on the homeland security curriculum, which assists students in developing the skills necessary to enter the job market. MacMurray College homeland security students have completed internships with the Illinois State Police, Morgan County Sheriff's Office, Jacksonville Police Department, Springfield Police Department, and a host of other agencies throughout the nation. Other homeland security internship placements have included prosecutor's offices, probation, parole, coroner's offices, and private sector placements.

Career Fairs

Criminal Justice and Homeland Security majors are encouraged to attend career fairs throughout the year. Attending career fairs is an excellent way for students to get to know and make themselves known to potential employers.

With MacMurray's close proximity to the state capital of Springfield, there are numerous opportunities to make such connections, and the Criminal Justice and Homeland Security programs often arrange for transportation to go in groups to such events. In addition, students are encouraged and helped to go further afield, to such events as the Law Enforcement and Justice Administration Career Fair every fall at Western Illinois University in Macomb, IL.


The curriculum is continually updated to keep pace with the latest homeland security trends and developments. Additionally, instructors make use of professionals drawn from the various fields to serve as guest lecturers. Our course offerings include a broad spectrum of homeland security classes that includes forensics, cybercrimes, and victimology.


Beyond having the required academic qualifications, all faculty members are required to have been employed in the criminal justice arena and have a minimum of 10 years' service experience — they have either retired or are still serving in criminal justice agencies. Our current faculty consists of a state police district commander, a retired state police crime lab director, two correctional/parole officers, a criminal courts judge, and a federal prosecutor.

Photo of Bruce Liebe

Bruce A. Liebe

Senior Director for the School of Professional Studies
Assistant Professor of Homeland Security

"The class sizes allow you to connect with students. You get to know students and have ample opportunity to interact with them. The MacMurray environment truly creates a family atmosphere."

  • Areas of interest: Liebe has a special interest in the management of critical incidents and the decision making process utilized in both routine and crisis situations.
  • M.A. in Legal Studies — University of Illinois-Springfield
  • B.A. in Criminal Justice — University of Illinois-Springfield
  • A.A.S. in Criminal Justice — Illinois Valley Community College
  • Courses taught: Introduction to Homeland Security, Domestic and International Terrorism, Tradecraft and Weaponry of Terrorism, Transportation Networks and Homeland Security, Intelligence, Public Health and Homeland Security, Criminal Incident Management, Homeland Security Strategies and Policy, Mass Violence
Photo of Mark Lahr

Mark A. Lahr

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and Homeland Security

"I really enjoy the fact that students are there to gain knowledge of their perspective fields. I love bringing real world experience to the classroom. It bridges the gap between written text and the experience the instructor brings from the field. The students are more complete with information and leave with a clearer picture of the profession they want to enter."

  • Areas of interest: Lahr is an exercise enthusiast, especially when it comes to weightlifting. He loves the outdoors and enjoys hiking, biking, and fishing. His favorite place to be is on the East Coast enjoying its oceans and beaches.
  • Enrolled in D.P.A. Program in Public Administration — University of Illinois
  • M.A. in Enforcement and Justice Administration — Western Illinois University
  • B.A. in Criminal Justice — University of Illinois-Springfield
  • A.A. in Criminal Justice — Lincoln Land Community College
  • Courses taught: Weapons of Mass Destruction, Intro to Criminal Justice, Victimology, Writing in Criminal Justice, Community Corrections, Policing in America, Juvenile Justice, Intelligence in Homeland Security, Corrections, Criminology
Photo of Trenton Thompson

Trenton Thompson

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and Homeland Security

"As a father of two wonderful boys, a retired military leader and an athletics coach, I enjoy working with and providing guidance and support to our young adults as they become our future leaders, coaches and parents."

  • Areas of interest: Thompson enjoys a very active, family-oriented lifestyle, and he continues to be very involved with the public service sector and community organizations and clubs. He and his wife enjoy traveling and exploring new places and things; watching their two boys (25 and 20) grow, experience life and discover their passion; and having the companionship of their two dogs. Thompson is an avid cyclist, specifically focused on off-road, ultra-distance endurance rides and races, as well as a volunteer wrestling coach at the high school level.
  • M.S. in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management — Eastern Kentucky University
  • B.S. in Organizational Leadership — Greenville University
  • Courses taught: Introduction to Private Security, Introduction to Homeland Security, Intelligence and Homeland Security, U.S. Healthcare System and Homeland Security, Weaponry of Terrorism, Transportation Networks and Homeland Security, and Homeland Security Strategy and Policy

Accolades and Rankings

  • Program — awarded chapter of the Order of the Sword and Shield, a national honor society for homeland security students.
  • MacMurray College's 2017 Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate Award recipient double majored in criminal justice and homeland security. This is one of the most prestigious awards given to a graduating senior.
  • Bruce Liebe, senior director of the School of Professional Studies, has authored numerous articles on critical incident management for the National Tactical Officers Association's journal and the Illinois Tactical Officer's Association journal. He also consults with various police SWAT programs throughout the United States regarding incident management strategies.


Photo of Abby Youngblood

Abby Youngblood
Criminal Justice and Homeland Security Major

"The Illinois Emergency Agency (IEMA) is a state agency that helps communities recover after natural disasters, and the personnel are often police officers, firefighters, and EMTs. At IEMA we did a lot of revising policies the state uses during emergencies so I incorporated a lot of writing and grammar skills along with my knowledge of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS) that I learned in my major specific classes.

"This internship gave me lots of experience and insight into what happens when a disaster strikes Illinois such as a flood or tornado. I also discovered all the behind-the-scenes work that occurs when there is not a disaster. Along with experience and learning, interning at IEMA gave me the opportunity to network with professionals in my career field and to form relationships that could benefit me after I graduate."


Photo of David Searby, Jr.

David Searby, Jr. '96

"My experiences at MacMurray taught me to continue to learn. This not only helps you succeed in your given profession but life in general. The process of learning and what I learned at MacMurray definitely benefited me in law school and in various other aspects of my life. Additionally, MacMurray gives you a real sense of community and that continues through your life, wanting to help your individual community and make it a better place."

Attorney David Searby, Jr. graduated from MacMurray College with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice/political science in December 1995. While attending MacMurray, he participated actively in campus life, serving as a four-year member of MacMurray Student Association, Campus Activities Board, and Sigma Tau Gamma. He was a member of MacMurray Alumni Council of Students for three years, Mortar Board for two years, and Jane Hall House Council for one year. He also served as a MacMurray Peer Educator for two years and received the Criminal Justice department award.

He immediately put his education to work in 1996 as a criminal analyst and telecommunicator for the Perry County Sheriff's Office and the Du Quoin police department. He completed his juris doctor degree and the Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale in 2001. In the same year, he was admitted to practice law in the State of Illinois and joined the Illinois State Bar Association and Kurt E. Harris Law Firm, where he is currently employed.

He is an active board member of Five Star Industries, Inc. a not-for-profit corporation providing residential and employment services for disabled persons. Searby has served as a member of the Emergency Services and Disaster Agency for the City of Du Quoin, Illinois since 1997 as an operations officer and as a public information officer since 2001. He achieved the Illinois Emergency Management Agency's "Professional Emergency Manager" designation and has been awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal from the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association. Additionally he is a Certified Emergency Manager through the International Association of Emergency Managers. He provided valuable service while deployed to the state of Mississippi as part of the Illinois Incident Management Team following Hurricane Katrina in September 2005. He has been a Perry County Youth Court Moderator since 2007 and has drafted and testified on various pieces of legislation in the Illinois General Assembly regarding emergency management issues. Searby was named as a fundraising "Hero" for the American Red Cross in 2006. He received the Young Alumni award from MacMurray College in 2006 and has served as a member of the MacMurray College Alumni Board from 2003 to 2010.