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School of Criminal Justice: Four Decades of Academic Excellence

February 2, 2009

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UAlbany School of Criminal Justice alumni

UAlbany graduates have become deans of schools, chairs of departments, distinguished professors and have occupied leadership positions in federal and state government.

UAlbany's School of Criminal Justice (SCJ) has changed the landscape of research and education in the field. Over the past 40 years, SCJ has boasted nationally-recognized faculty, ground-breaking research and accomplished alumni, paving the way to academic excellence for which the School has become known.

In fact, after its founding in 1968, the School achieved almost instantaneous recognition and quickly began attracting exceptional students with its novel interdisciplinary approach and pre-eminent faculty. It became the first doctoral-granting criminal justice program in the nation. Its curriculum has been emulated by many of the doctoral programs founded since then.

"UAlbany's School broadened the field, from the study of crime to the study of society's response to crime," said Distinguished Professor David Bayley, who served as dean from 1995-1999. "Faculty developed the 'Albany Model,' which focuses on the institutions that deal with crime, the legal and social contexts of crime, and bringing about change in the criminal justice system. That model became the basis for the formal study of criminal justice issues in the U.S."

Today, the School continues to build its reputation, setting the standard for high academic achievement and scholarly research. In 2006, the School garnered a #2 ranking by U.S. News and World Report for doctoral programs in criminology. There's no doubt, the School's contributions are -- and continue to be -- far reaching.

Alumnus Thomas A. Constantine, '71, former Drug Enforcement Administration head and superintendent of the New York State Police, recalled the public negativity toward police officers during the 1960s, when the nation experienced a rise in violent crime and use of illegal drugs. But it was the SCJ that helped change that view, said Constantine, "by educating police officers who are honest, bright, well prepared, and rigorously tested."

In addition to the field, the SCJ has also had profound impacts on its students, like Constantine, who noted that his time at SCJ "gave me a life I never thought possible and skills that, to this day, have carried me through some tough situations."

The same holds true for today's students.

School of Criminal Justice's first class

In SCJ's first class, there was only one woman student. Today, in the School's doctorate program, women outnumber men by more than 1.5 to 1.

"Being part of a University with such a high reputation in the criminal justice community certainly provides a sense of pride," said third-year doctoral student Nicole Schmidt, of Boston. "The UAlbany faculty is regarded as some of the best in the country and the opportunity to collaborate with them as a graduate student is extraordinary."

The quality of its faculty has always given the School an extraordinary stature. The first four faculty members hired -- Fred Cohen, Donald Newman, Hans Toch and William Brown -- were all established and lured to Albany by the challenge of inventing new curriculum. Today, the Schoolís faculty is widely recognized for both research and teaching. Two faculty, Bayley and Toch, hold the rank of SUNY Distinguished Professor -- the systemís highest rank, awarded for outstanding accomplishments in research. Professors James Acker and Graeme Newman hold the rank of SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor. Others have been awarded UAlbany Excellence Awards for teaching and academic service.

"While the School has long been well known for the accomplishments of its senior faculty, in recent years its reputation has also been enhanced by the outstanding young faculty members who have joined the program," said SCJ Dean Julie Horney. "These stars of the future are already making their mark on scholarship in the field. In addition, they are dedicated teachers who will continue the tradition of excellence in preparing our students for both academic careers and for leadership in the practical world of criminal justice."

The Schoolís faculty is recognized nationally and internationally for their research on delinquency, violence, sentencing, policing, capital punishment and other topics. Current research projects include the Rochester Youth Development Study (RYDS), an ongoing longitudinal investigation of the development of antisocial behavior, including delinquency and drug use. The study, which began in 1988, is crucial in examining whether or not delinquency occurs because of the pattern of interactions between the individual and his or her environment.

Other highlights include the Capital Punishment Research Initiative (CPRI), founded in the late 1990s by Acker to encourage scholarship, conduct training, and disseminate scientifically grounded knowledge about the ultimate penal sanction. Its scope expanded to include building and maintaining the National Death Penalty Archives for historical documents and data on the death penalty.

UAlbany graduates have become deans of schools, chairs of departments, distinguished professors and have occupied leadership positions in federal and state government. They include Adam C. Bouloukos, who after a stint in Afghanistan directing that country's first even general election, now directs the U.N.'s operations in the Sudan. The School continues to attract the top students from around the nation, producing a new generation of scholars and practitioners. 

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Istvan Kecskes
UAlbany Faculty

For UAlbany linguist and teacher Istvan Kecskes, the world is his classroom.

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