Community mourns passing of Professor Emeritus Chastain

The UALR community is mourning Professor Emeritus Dr. Charles Chastain, who died Tuesday, June 2, following a cancer diagnosis.

“All of us who knew Charles Chastain feel impoverished by the loss of his friendship and his intelligence, wit, and wisdom,” said UALR Chancellor Joel E. Anderson.

“Although he did not do it alone, he had a bigger hand than anyone else in making the UALR Department of Criminal Justice the very successful and influential department it has become—starting with the associate degree and today offering the Ph.D.,” Anderson said.

Dr. Chastain was known as an excellent teacher who carried strong convictions that the liberal arts should be part of the criminal justice curriculum. Countless students, faculty, and staff expressed positive messages about him, saying what a profound impact he had made on them and UALR.

Anderson was Dr. Chastain’s colleague in the UALR Department of Political Science when the seeds of a criminal justice program were just being sown in the early 1970s. With Chastain a guiding force, the seeds of the program were nurtured and developed into a full-blown department of its own.

The department eventually dominated the field in Arkansas, graduating students who in time filled many leadership positions in law enforcement, corrections, and other fields of criminal justice.

From 1975 to 1997, he served as either coordinator or chair of Criminal Justice at UALR. In addition, he served on the state Parole Board from 1993 to 2003, and had served on the Board of the Law Enforcement Training Academy, and the Gov. Bill Clinton’s Task Force on Crime and Justice.

He also served on the Board of the Substance Abuse Treatment Clinic of UAMS, the Arkansas Assisted Housing Network, and the Inmate Council of the Department of Correction Pine Bluff Unit. Chastain developed a reentry into society program for inmates at the Wrightsville Unit of the Department of Correction.

For more than a decade, a favorite project of Dr. Chastain’s involved the coordinating of book donations from UALR faculty, staff, and friends to the Arkansas Department of Correction libraries. The project eventually received widespread media attention.

Born in Ventura, Calif., Chastain earned a B.A. degree in sociology and a minor in political science from Arkansas Tech University.

He received an M.A. degree in political science and sociology from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and earned a Ph.D. in political science and the administration of justice from Southern Illinois University.

Funeral arrangements include a viewing, which will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., Friday, June 5, at Roller-Chenal Funeral Home, 13801 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock.

The funeral service will be at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 6, at First United Methodist Church, 723 Center Street, Little Rock, with a reception to follow at the church.

Memorials may be made to Charles D. Chastain Founding Chair Scholarship, UALR Development Office, 2801 South University, Little Rock, 72204.

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