At Alvernia, FBI agents and criminal psychologists go hand-in-hand, or at least these two do. Criminal psychologist Dr. Peggy Bowen-Hartung, PhD., and 27-year veteran of the FBI Professor Edgar J. Hartung, JD, are part of one of Pennsylvania’s oldest and finest university criminal justice departments. The pair tied the knot on Alvernia’s main campus in December 2009, and now make up an impressive duo, working to continue the tradition of excellence in a revolutionary criminal justice (CJ) program started by the late Sister Pacelli in 1974.
The couple’s combination of real-world experience, impressive qualifications, and outstanding teaching skills give CJ students a clear picture of future careers in the field and provides them with training that prepares them to excel in the field after graduation.
Ten years before Alvernia’s innovative CJ program was started, Edgar J. Hartung was a college student at the University of Rio Grande in Ohio, pursuing a degree in secondary education. His dreams of becoming a teacher, however, would be put on hold by the Vietnam War.
In Vietnam, Hartung served as an Air Force pilot, flying over Southeast Asia for five years. He survived more than 85 aerial combat missions and later received several service medals for his bravery and dedication to his country.
After the war, aviation remained a passion for Hartung. He became a certified flight instructor, member of the Federal Aviation Administration, and a corporate pilot, logging over 7,000 hours of flight time. “Flying is an enjoyable and relaxing experience for me,” explained Hartung.
While working as a sales representative for the Smith & Wesson firearms company, an acquaintance told Hartung that he should join the FBI—and what began as a mere suggestion became a life-changing decision.
He applied for an agent position and was accepted to the FBI training academy in Virginia, devoting the next 28 years of his life to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as both an agent and as an instructor in firearms, defense tactics, surveillance, and other areas. During his career in the FBI, Hartung participated in undercover investigations of civil rights matters, such as investigating the Ku Klux Klan, as well as leading an investigation of a Texas correctional institution (resulting in a groundbreaking reform case—Ruiz vs. Estelle). Hartung also exposed corruption in the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s office—a mission that gained widespread media attention and was commemorated in both a novel by Steve Sellers and a television documentary.
Following his remarkable career with the FBI, Professor Hartung led the Cleveland Heights (Ohio) police department for several years while earning a law degree, and eventually returned to his original educational career path. He accepted a teaching position at Alvernia in 2003.
In the last seven years, Hartung has devoted a significant amount of time to developing Alvernia’s criminal justice curriculum into one of the best programs of its kind. He also serves on various committees, boards, and councils on campus, as well as teaching several courses at the university’s Reading Police Academy.
As a very young woman, Peggy Bowen-Hartung, Ph.D., CTS, recognized the importance of education. She left her home on an Osage Indian reservation in Oklahoma to attend Stanford University. She later moved to Texas, earning her doctorate in educational psychology from Texas A&M, where she also became a teacher.
After a 1967 law was passed in Texas requiring police officers to undergo psychological evaluations, Dr. Bowen-Hartung realized the close connection between psychology and criminal justice. She became a law enforcement instructor at Texas A&M and was the first woman in the state of Texas to be named to a special weapons unit.
Bowen-Hartung has served as a licensed psychologist in the states of Oklahoma and Texas, as well as a certified trauma specialist. In fact, her unique background has made her a valuable asset to the American Red Cross, which has called on the mental health specialist to treat first responders—world-wide—after hurricanes, typhoons, and other natural disasters. Bowen-Hartung was at ground zero after September 11, 2001, and has been to all 50 states and Canada, as well as every country in South America, Asia, and Europe.In 2004, Bowen-Hartung accepted a position at Alvernia, where she has been one of the university’s most active faculty members. In addition to teaching a variety of courses dealing with psychology and criminal justice at both Alvernia and the Reading Police Academy, she is involved in the undergraduate Honors Program, as well as various committees and councils on campus.
Locally, Bowen-Hartung is involved in both the Anti-Gang Initiative and the Public Safety Advisory Committee for the City of Reading. She serves on the National Institute of Health Review Board, as well as being actively involved in various criminal justice and psychology associations across the nation.
Even when they are not teaching, the couple is always on the go. Both actively participate in a multitude of professional and academic conferences, workshops, and other affiliations—on state and national levels. Both regularly contribute to academic publications in their respective fields, and are currently considering the possibility of penning accounts of their own incredible careers.
- By Leah Della Croce for the 2010 Spring/Summer edition of the Alvernia Magazine.