Pioneer Spotlight: Dr. Staci Strobl
Dr. Staci Strobl, associate professor of criminal justice and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, began working at the university on July 1. As chair, Strobl is responsible for conducting academic planning, assigning teaching loads, creating a department schedule of classes, managing departmental resources, overseeing the budget, mentoring junior faculty, hiring new faculty and more.
Prior to Strobl’s appointment at UW-Platteville, she served as an associate and assistant professor as well as a major coordinator and assessment coordinator in the Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, N.Y. In addition, she worked as a crime journalist and served as a probation officer for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.
What qualities does UW-Platteville’s Department of Criminal Justice possess that drew you here?
I am very impressed with the department’s exceptional faculty, staff and programs. It is clear that faculty and staff have a wide range of academic and criminal justice experience that enables them to offer a diverse and meaningful education to our students.
What is your vision for UW-Platteville’s Department of Criminal Justice?
Currently, the department has a strong, visible profile locally and regionally. I am proud that so many UW-Platteville criminal justice graduates have moved on to major positions in law enforcement, government and community service. We need to raise our profile among the national and international criminal justice organizations and agencies.
Additionally, my department hopes to engage in dialogue on campus and in the community about the relationship of social justice to criminal justice. In light of high-profile events around the country that have highlighted strained relationships between police agencies and communities of color, we need productive and respectful dialogue more than ever. Many of the faculty in our department have important thinking to share on this topic based on their expertise, but also are eager to engage with others who are concerned with this issue from a variety of vantage points.
I am also looking forward to supporting the department’s Criminal Justice Living Learning Community, peer mentoring, professor mentoring and other role modeling efforts. We hope to expand the Pathways to College program at Jefferson High School in Rockford, Ill., in which high school students can experience a college-level criminal justice course. We also will continue working with Southwest Tech so that students interested in being police officers get the police academy training they need. This significantly improves their chances of getting hired quickly after graduation.
I want to report the successes of our programs, not only locally, but nationally and internationally. It will take time to develop some of these connections, but it should not be difficult, as there is an audience of people in the criminal justice field throughout the country and world who are interested in – and actively seeking out information related to – criminal justice and forensic science.
What do you see as the most pressing issues/challenges in the field of criminal justice today?
Criminal justice students and scholars must engage in the larger, national conversation about criminal justice and the community—this is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Can American law enforcement agencies better match criminal justice to social justice in our communities? What needs to change for that to happen? New laws? New law enforcement strategies and techniques? A pulling back from mass incarceration trends? Developing alternatives like restorative justice? Our department doesn’t have all the answers, but we have devoted our intellectual lives to these topics, broadly construed, and can contribute meaningfully to the conversation.
What are you most looking forward to doing your first year?
Over the last several years, enrollment in our programs has increased, broadly speaking, and as such, the faculty has grown and will grow a bit in size to meet this demand. I am looking forward to working with faculty on curriculum changes to stay current with how students need to prepare for the workplace or for continuing their education in a graduate program. Potential changes in the curriculum will foster better awareness of the social and political context in which the system operates. Criminal justice graduates of the future will be more successful if they are able to be responsive to the needs of communities that the system serves, in particular historically disadvantaged groups.
What are the three most important things you hope criminal justice students take away with them when they graduate?
I hope that all criminal justice graduates possess the ability to think critically and always question their own assumptions. I also hope they develop the leadership skills they need to make important decisions – sometimes split-second, life-changing ones – as confidently and thoughtfully as possible.
Interview conducted by Laurie Hamer, UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.