Dr. Cheryl P. May is the Director of the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI), its National Center for Rural Law Enforcement (NCRLE) and the Arkansas Center for School Safety (ACSS). She was appointed Director on July 1, 2010. She has served and been an advocate for the Arkansas law enforcement community for more than 30 years as a forensic professional and also as CJI Chief Executive Officer, CJI Deputy Director, CJI Assistant Director, and CJI Program Manager.
Dr. May earned a Ph.D. in Biological/Forensic Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1984. She also earned a M.A. in Biological Anthropology from Western Michigan University in 1982 and a B.A. in Anthropology from West Virginia University in 1978. Since her arrival in Arkansas, she has assisted Arkansas law enforcement in the investigation of hundreds of cases, either through laboratory analysis and evaluation of skeletal remains or in the identification and field recovery of suspected human remains. She has held the positions of Assistant Professor and Associate Professor within the Departments of Anthropology and Criminal Justice, respectfully, at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Immediately prior to joining the CJI staff in 1995, she was the Director of Clinical Research for the Department of Orthopedics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Dr. May played the lead role in the development of CJI’s three unique academic programs that allow active members of Arkansas law enforcement to earn certificates and associate degrees in crime scene investigation and law enforcement administration. She coordinated efforts to establish partnerships with 22 Arkansas institutions of higher education and actively promotes these programs to law enforcement agencies throughout the State.
Since 2014, Dr. May has served as Chair of the Arkansas Department of Education’s Safe Schools Committee. She also worked with the Arkansas Department of Education to collaboratively establish the Arkansas Center for School Safety under the umbrella of CJI. On March 1, 2018, Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed Dr. May as Chair of the Arkansas School Safety Commission.
Dr. May has served as President of the Arkansas Alliance for Drug Endangered Children since its formation in 2005 and currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (DEC). She served as Chair of the First Responder Subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Task Force on Autism and was an appointed member of the Arkansas Task Force for the Prevention of Human Trafficking.
In the late 1990s, Dr. May served as a Subject Matter Expert for the Crime Scene Issues Subcommittee of the U.S. Department of Justice National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence, helping to produce DNA evidence educational CD ROMS, a DNA pamphlet, and a cold case investigations manuscript distributed to law enforcement officers across the United States.
Dr. May is currently the Principal Investigator on three CJI grants (SAMHSA, Arkansas Department of Adult Aging and Behavioral Health Services, and Blue and You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas) focusing on 1.) Naloxone administration training and Narcan distribution for first responders and families in recovery and 2.) providing communities prevention education resources to reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths in Arkansas. She is also a champion for the development and implementation of statewide certified Child Abduction Response Teams.