Alumnus returns to Oswego as professor of new Behavioral Forensics certificate program

Forming relationships during your time as a student is one of the many benefits of attending college. Whether it is with your peers, professors or staff, these connections are what form the foundation of your professional network.

For SUNY Oswego alumnus, Michael Sacco, his close bond with social psychology professor Dr. Pam Brand ultimately led to his new role as a professor and advisory board member for the development of a new graduate program over two decades later.

Following the completion of a bachelor’s degree in psychology from SUNY Oswego and master’s degree in social work from SUNY Albany, Michael Sacco took on a role at Central New York Psychiatric Center as a Clinical Social Worker. In his position Sacco is responsible for coordinating treatment services in an acute forensic inpatient unit.

Because of Sacco’s extensive experience in the field, he became an obvious resource to Dr. Brand during the development of the new graduate certificate in Behavioral Forensics.

Combining research and practice

Oswego’s graduate certificate curriculums reflect emerging trends in fast growing industries and innovative opportunities to build skills in a particular area. As the world becomes more diverse and complex, it is more important than ever to understand variability in human behavior.

The Behavioral Forensics certificate program comes at a complex time when it is critically important to understand variability in human behavior and that law enforcement plays a vital role in the treatment of people with mental illness.

“Community-police relations cannot be undervalued,” said Dr. Brand. “The need for professional, well-educated criminal justice personnel has never been greater.”

The program examines behavioral science research on topics related to the criminal justice system due to the fact that law enforcement are most likely the first to have contact with these individuals in the community. At the same time, helping professionals are responsible for care and treatment of these individuals, which can be very a complex situation as well.

“Having both sides of the spectrum, law enforcement and treatment professionals, come together to learn about each other’s roles is a big first step,” said Sacco.

Student and professor

Although Sacco is an expert in the field, teaching a college level course was a new challenge. Sacco and Dr. Brand worked closely to develop a comprehensive, online course in Competency, Insanity, and Mental Illness.

“Dr. Brand had a lot of faith in me and I’m grateful for that. We spent a lot of time discussing relevant information for BFR505. I gained some perspective on what goes into creating a course,” Sacco said. “It’s been great to take my twenty years in the field and apply it to something so structured and see the results,” he continued.