June 13, 2011

Kempf-Leonard named Liberal Arts dean

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The chair of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice in Southern Illinois University Carbondale's College of Liberal Arts is set to become the dean of her college.
Chancellor Rita Cheng announced the appointment of Kimberly Kempf-Leonard today (June 13). The appointment, which requires ratification by the SIU Board of Trustees, is effective Aug. 1.
Cheng noted the strong field of finalists vying to replace the retiring Dean Alan Vaux, and expressed her appreciation to the search committee for its efforts.
“Dr. Kempf-Leonard enjoys widespread support in her department, her college and across the campus, and for good reason,” Cheng said. “She is a skilled leader and accomplished scholar, and I look forward to the positive impact she will have on colleagues and students throughout our largest college.”
Provost John Nicklow said Kempf-Leonard is a “great hire.”
“She brings scholarship, an understanding of online teaching and pedagogy, and as a department chair, administrative experience, to the dean’s office,” he said. “She works very collaboratively with her faculty and staff, and I’m really excited about the future possibilities.”
Kempf-Leonard, who joined the University four years ago, said her own interdisciplinary background will help her to see strengths in all the areas of the college, and help her to promote the entire college. It has 20 departments, plus the Center for Dewey Studies, the University Museum and the New Media Center; and more than 25 possible majors, 36 minors and seven other programs affiliated with the college.
Kempf-Leonard said she wants to see more communication among the college departments, for its own sake but also with an eye to research collaboration and curriculum development. The college already offers a number of interdisciplinary minors, and Kempf-Leonard said there are undoubtedly other opportunities to use resources and faculty already on campus to develop new programs and courses.
“I am delighted to take on the challenges of the position and to be able to work more closely with so many accomplished people in our college and University,” Kempf-Leonard said.
One of her priorities is to help more people understand the value of a liberal arts degree.
“Today we have so many people who want a specific skill set designed to help them get a job immediately upon graduation,” she said. “We need to get the word out that the liberal arts actually equip students with the qualities employers are looking for in those they expect to climb the corporate ladder, and also with those skills that pertain to quality of life.”
Kempf-Leonard earned her doctoral degree in 1986 at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where she also holds a master of arts in criminology and criminal law and a master of science in sociology. Her bachelor’s degree is from the University of Nebraska. She taught at Temple University, Kent State University, and the London School of Economics and Political Science before joining the University of Missouri at St. Louis as an assistant professor. While there, she was a research fellow for the Center for Metropolitan Studies and directed the graduate program. She joined the University of Texas at Dallas as a full professor, and then came to SIUC as the chair of her department in 2007.
Kempf-Leonard received the Gustavus Myers Award for Human Rights in North America, and special recognition from the Missouri Department of Public Safety for Service to the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. She is the author of numerous books and articles in professional and academic journals including “Criminology and Public Policy,” “Criminology,” and “Justice Quarterly.” She has received more than $600,000 in competitive research grants and contracts.
Kempf-Leonard has made her home in Carbondale, with her husband, Charles, also an SIUC faculty member in the Department of Political Science and the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. The couple has two sons, one just graduated from Carbondale Community High School and one set to enter the high school this fall.