Excellence in Teaching
James AckerThe Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes faculty members for their skill, innovation, and dedication to teaching and academic advising.
James Acker brings his hands-on law background to the School of Criminal Justice. An attorney with the Durham, N.C., practice of Loflin, Loflin & Acker from 1976 to 1980, Acker has spent the last 20 years lecturing, teaching, and administering in the University’s Department of Criminal Justice.
Known for his innovative teaching approach, Acker served as interim dean of the School of Criminal Justice for two years and led the school during a difficult transition period. He served as coordinator of the school’s undergraduate program for many years and was considered its conscience and best spokesperson. But although he has worn many hats over the years, his strength has been as a superior teacher. He is consistently rated as outstanding in student evaluations and earned the school’s first Best Teacher Award by acclamation. Praised for his work with a continuing extracurricular study group called the Capital Punishment Research Initiative, Acker also created a new undergraduate offering this semester called Introduction to Law and Criminal Justice.
A scholar of repute with a very impressive publication record, Acker has written or co-written five books, as well as more than 50 book chapters or articles. He is currently or has been a member of the American Society of Criminology, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the Law and Society Association. Acker has received 15 research and conference grants, and he has garnered numerous awards from faculty and peers over the years, including the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Development and the Library Advocate Award.
Acker continues to be a member of the Board of Editors of the Albany Law Review: State Constitutional Commentary. He served on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Criminal Law Bulletin for nine years and was co-editor-in-chief of that same publication from 1996 to 2002. In recommending Acker for the Excellence in Teaching Award, Professor Hans Toch called him an inspiring teacher. “Jim brings to the classroom the discipline of his law background, tempered with an encyclopedic understanding of social science-related issues,” Toch wrote. “Our students, therefore, receive a unique blend of legal thinking and the social scientific approach to addressing problems of the criminal justice system… Jim’s inspiration and contributions as a teacher and a scholar are bound to be fondly recalled, and will be emulated by many of our graduates.”
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