The People: Hal Nees

By Donna Fowler

Publish Date: September 12, 2013

Emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology Harol “Hal” Nees II died June 29, 2013, after battling cancer. He was living in Arizona at the time of his death.

Nees, a 1976 MSU Denver graduate, came to the University in 1998 as an assistant professor after nearly three decades in law enforcement. Nees served as president of the Faculty Senate from 2004–08. In 2010, he was elected Faculty Trustee. He retired in 2011 as a full professor and was awarded emeritus status one year later.

“I knew Hal for over 25 years; he and I were in our doctoral program together,” says MSU Denver President Stephen Jordan. “A true Roadrunner, Hal embodied the role and mission of the University.  He was a top-notch faculty member and accomplished much as Faculty Senate president, including tackling the revision of the General Studies curriculum and rewriting the Distinguished Service Award policy to make it more equitable among the employee groups.”

Current Faculty Senate President Kamran Sahami says that Nees wasn’t just a colleague, he was his mentor. “I worked with him when he was Faculty Senate president and I was on the executive committee and then when he was trustee. He was one of the finest people I know. He leaves a legacy of professionalism, kindness and a love of education and his students that we should all aspire to.”

Prior to coming to MSU Denver, Nees had been a police chief in Boulder and ran Colorado’s largest community-based corrections program for five years. He held a doctoral degree in public administration, two master’s degrees and another bachelor’s degree.

Letters, Arts and Sciences Dean Joan Foster says that Nees was “even handed, a clear communicator who spoke his mind and always worked to create the best situation for his constituency and for MSU Denver.”

In a 2009 @MSU Denver article, Nees was quoted as saying, “People here are working to build their futures. … Metro State is just a magical place, a place of hope.”

Nees had pledged a legacy gift to MSU Denver to establish a scholarship in his name in the Criminal Justice and Criminology Department. Donations are being accepted and will be held in a holding account until the endowment is finalized. Make checks payable to the MSU Denver Foundation, Inc., noting in memory of Hal Nees. Mail to the foundation at PO Box 17971, Denver, CO 80217-9812. Or donations can be made online; add a note in the comments box that states Hal Nees Scholarship Fund.