UC Adunjct Professor Captain Edward Cunanan brings experience to the classroom

Ed Cunanan

Police Captain Edward Cunanan, RWU Class of '08, '13M, UC Adjunct Professor

Criminal Justice
Faculty & Alumni

"My experience of 30 years on the job as a police officer definitely benefits my ability to pass on knowledge and facilitate a conversation in the classroom," said Woonsocket Police Captain Edward Cunanan, who has taught at RWU as an adjunct professor since 2014. 

A two-time RWU graduate, Cunanan has experience as a student, teacher, and professional in the criminal justice field. Teaching first at the Bristol campus and now at University College, Cunanan is grateful to be able to discuss ethical and practical issues of criminal justice with his students. 

"I’m learning from the students, too. It’s mutually beneficial." he said. 

We recently talked with Cunanan about his experiences as a Police Captain and UC Adjunct Professor. 

What made you want to be an Adjunct Professor?

I really enjoyed my student experience at Roger Williams. I found the discussions and the exploration of the content very interesting. I wanted to keep the conversation going. To me, the best part of higher learning is the conversations you have with your classmates, the interaction and exchange of diverse ideas. When I was offered the opportunity to come back to Roger Williams as an instructor, I really wanted to get back in the classroom. It has been a dream come true. When I finish my policing career, I would love to take on the challenge of being a full-time instructor.

Do your roles as Police Captain and Adjunct Professor influence one another? 

Of course. There are a lot of police officers who take classes at UC, so my interactions with police officers in the classroom builds off of my police career. We are able to discuss a lot of the current issues we are facing and exchange ideas. I’m learning from them just as much as they learn from me. My experience of 30 years on the job as a police officer definitely benefits my ability to pass on knowledge and facilitate a conversation in the classroom. Both my career choices benefit each other. 

How does learning from faculty who are actively employed in the field benefit students?

I’ve heard, from almost day one of teaching, that students really enjoy the fact that their instructor has actual field experience. They enjoy having someone in front of them who has been there and can give them some real-life experiences that will support things that are in the book. 

What do you do in your role as a police captain? 

My most important job is making sure the people of the Woonsocket Police Department have all the tools and resources they need to do their job efficiently and safety, to serve the people of Woonsocket. I oversee the station and make sure it is secure and safe.  I’m responsible for the fleet, I oversee the training division and internal affairs, and I do a lot of grant writing for the department. I do community outreach and community policing because that is a personal interest of mine. I also oversee recruiting, which is a big responsibility. 

How did you get involved in policing? 

When I think back on my career, I am very thankful and feel very fortunate because I could have been a statistic. Instead, I was given a lot of chances and it has worked out very well. I was born and raised in Woonsocket from a single-parent family, in the projects and on welfare. Nobody really expected all that much out of me, but I made the most of the opportunities that have been given to me. I became a police officer at 20 years old and climbed up to the rank of Captain with a lot of hard work and determination. I was fortunate to walk down that path, which eventually led me to higher learning. It has been an unbelievable experience and I am very thankful for Roger Williams.