September 14, 2007

Head of administration of justice excited about role

by Andrea Hahn


Caption follows story

CARBONDALE, Ill. — It seems like a mouthful to say, but the new director of the Center for the Study of Crime, Delinquency and Corrections at Southern Illinois University Carbondale insists that with a little practice the initialized version of the name – CSCDC – just "rolls off the tongue."

Kimberly Kempf-Leonard, who took up the reins at CSCDC this fall, said the historic significance of the name is part of what makes the administration of justice program at SIUC unique. She said researching the program prior to coming to SIUC made her appreciate the specific strengths of CSCDC, established in 1961.

"One of the reasons I came here is because the faculty are from different programs – and all from top programs nationally," she said. "And I don't know of any other program like this one where the founder went on to become director of the Bureau of Prisons."

Leonard referred to the first director of the program, Myrl E. Alexander, who served as director of the federal Bureau of Prisons from 1964 to1970 after establishing the SIUC program. Alexander's leadership established the "Corrections" part of CSCDC. His understanding of the prison system and the varied needs for a truly rehabilitative approach solidified an interdisciplinary trend that Leonard said she intends to continue.

"This is a full-range University and it provides some opportunities for different specializations within a justice program and the students here know that," she said. "For example, we have students double-majoring in forestry or zoology who are interested in conservation. We have architecture students interested in environmental criminology, in how prison design can aid or hamper rehabilitation efforts. And there are a lot of job opportunities here for someone interested in the administration of justice."

Leonard comes to SIUC from the University of Texas at Dallas, where she helped build graduate and undergraduate programs in criminal justice. She lists juvenile justice, crime and delinquency patterns and administration of justice issues pertaining to race, ethnicity and gender among her specialties. She won the 1997 Gustavus Myers Award for Human Rights in North America for a book she co-edited, "Minorities in Juvenile Justice." She also held teaching and research positions at Temple University, Kent State University, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Several of Leonard's university positions have been cross appointments with public policy, women and gender studies or political science. She remains an associate editor of the journal "Crime and Delinquency" and on the editorial boards of "Women and Criminal Justice" and "Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice."

In addition to being a criminologist, Leonard has expertise in social science measurement. Recently, she served as editor-in-chief of "The Encyclopedia of Social Measurement," a three-volume set covering qualitative and quantitative approaches to social sciences and social measurement.

Leonard earned a master's degree in sociology and a master's degree in criminology at the University of Pennsylvania. She also earned her doctoral degree there in 1986, in social systems sciences, specializing in criminology. Her bachelor's degree in criminal justice and women's studies is from the University of Nebraska.

Alan Vaux, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, of which CSCDC is a part, said he was delighted to welcome Leonard to SIUC. "Dr. Leonard is an excellent scholar and will provide the leadership that this fine program deserves," he said. "Administration of Justice is one of our most popular majors, and the faculty and staff work very hard to sustain both the educational programs and a strong research profile."

"It is an honor to serve as director of the historic program at SIUC," Leonard said. "The CSCDC awards both undergraduate and graduate degrees in the Administration of Justice, and has an impressive group of alumni and criminologists who have served on its faculty. I'm the first woman to serve as director, and unfortunately, having women in such administrative positions is still relatively uncommon in our field."

She also noted that the proximity of CSCDC to state and federal prisons, policing agencies, courts and the state capital "should be mutually beneficial, perhaps more than is currently true."

"I intend to work on developing these linkages both in terms of job opportunities for students and for research that can help identify ways to improve criminal justice operations," Leonard said. "I am encouraged that the faculty and students make a good team, and I'm thrilled they've chosen me to help lead our efforts."