Dr. Neil Harper

neil harper
Dr. Neil Harper

Teaching Fellow (Criminal Justice) - Retired ATF Senior Special Agent


Direct Office Phone: 423-775-2041

Field of Study: Criminal Justice

Office: Criminal Justice Department

Academic Degrees
  • Ph.D., Leadership with Criminal Justice (Candidate), University of the Cumberlands, 2024
  • MSFS in Forensic Psychology (in progress), Oklahoma State University, 2024
  • D.Min., Ministry Leadership, Liberty University, Rawlings School of Divinity, 2021
  • Th.M., Practical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2021
  • M.S., Explosives Technology, Missouri University of Science & Technology, 2019
  • M.Div., Christian Ministries, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2016
  • MPA, Criminal Justice, City University, 1999


Dr. Neil Harper teaches criminal justice courses on-campus as a Teaching Fellow. His area of interest includes preparing current and future law enforcement officers for engagement in the public square from a Christian worldview. Dr. Harper is also passionate about raising future leaders and enjoys teaching courses on leadership, justice administration, law enforcement, criminal investigations, and ethics in the criminal justice system.

As a former deputy sheriff, police officer, investigator, military police officer, ATF Special Agent, and ministry leader, Dr. Harper brings significant real-world experiences to the classroom, enhancing student learning and understanding of the criminal justice system at all levels. Those experiences and related case studies include discussion and various active learning assignments. Dr. Harper retired as an ATF Senior Special Agent in 2019 and a U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel in 2016. He and his wife of 30 years reside in Cleveland, Tennessee, with their two children.

After retiring from ATF, Dr. Harper served in full-time ministry as an Assistant Pastor for Educational Ministries and then as the President & CEO for Leadership Ministries Worldwide (LMW) in Chattanooga, where he continues to volunteer in an advisory role for ministry partnerships. Dr. Harper also remains engaged with the Executive Office of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers in Chattanooga and is at work on a video training series in conjunction with LMW related to Christian discipleship for police officers.

Dr. Harper is also on-staff at Westwood Baptist Church in Cleveland, Tennessee, as a volunteer Assistant Pastor for External Ministries, and his wife serves as the Preschool Director.

Publications, Research, & Editing

  • In-progress research. Developing moral reasoning: An evaluation of criminal justice curricula using the Defining Issues Test (DIT2).
  • In-progress Research: Exemplary teacher-leadership: A comparison of the leadership practices of criminal justice professors, instructors, and adjuncts.
  • Book Review - Forthcoming (pre-print): Review of the book Rooted leadership: Seeking God’s answers to the eleven core questions every leader faces by J. E. Johnson. The Journal of Applied Christian Leadership.

Conference & Workshop Presentations

  • Panel speaker. (2021). Policing in the pandemic: Faith and law enforcement. Criminal Justice Symposium at Lee University.
  • Keynote speaker. (2019). Crime gun intelligence and the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network. Tennessee Association of Law Enforcement Analysts (TALEA) Annual Conference.

A few years ago, an alumnus who knew of my interest in teaching criminal justice from a Christian perspective pointed me to Bryan College. I was also leading a theology study group at my church during this time, and in this role, I met Dr. Jud Davis, who gave me a campus tour of Bryan College and later spoke to my group one Saturday  morning. At this point, I was also teaching, as an adjunct, at other universities, but I wanted to teach at Bryan College because of its commitment to teaching from a Christian worldview. Ultimately, I applied and spoke to Dr. Sam Youngs and then to the new Criminal Justice Department Chair, Tassi Dalton, and another criminal justice instructor, Clint Cantrell. At that point, I knew Bryan College was where God called me to serve for this season. My first-semester teaching at Bryan College was in the Fall of 2022. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity and consider it a privilege to serve the faculty and students of Bryan College.

— Dr. Neil Harper

Criminal Justice Teaching Fellow  |  criminal justice  | 

Criminal Justice Department
721 Bryan Drive
Dayton, TN 37321

Office Phone: 423-775-2041