Criminology professor surprised with Thomas Jefferson Award

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Earlier today, (from left) UMSL Arts and Sciences Dean Ron Yasbin, Provost Glen Cope, UM System Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Bob Schwartz and Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice chair Finn–Aage Esbensen surprised Founders Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice Richard Rosenfeld (center) with a Thomas Jefferson Award. (Photo by August Jennewein)

University of Missouri-St. Louis administrators Ron YasbinGlen Cope and Finn–Aage Esbensen and UM system administrator Bob Schwartz crashed Richard Rosenfeld’s classroom today with a special announcement.

Taken by surprise, Rosenfeld asked, “What’s up?”

After calling Rosenfeld to the center of the classroom, Schwartz, the UM System Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, reassured him, “I actually do come bearing good news.”

Schwartz then awarded the fourth of nine UM System President’s Awards to be presented to faculty in 2016 to Rosenfeld for his continued efforts and service.

Rosenfeld received the Thomas Jefferson Award, which includes a $10,000 award funded through a grant from the Robert Earll McConnell Foundation. The award recognizes faculty who rise above excellence and demonstrate clear distinction in teaching, research, writing, creative activities and service to the university and humankind.

Shocked at the display of gratitude and recognition, Rosenfeld was nearly speechless, but he managed to say, “This honor is absolutely wonderful…and totally unexpected.”

For more than 25 years, Rosenfeld has served on the faculty of UMSL’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. An internationally known criminologist, his work focuses on improving the quality of evidence-based policies and practices that explain crime trends, enhancing the public discourse of and policy response to crime and improving the effectiveness of criminal justice systems.

Notable among his efforts is his work to establish the St. Louis Public Safety Partnership in 2012 involving UMSL, the City of St. Louis and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Rosenfeld secured a $567,473 National Institute of Justice grant to support the partnership which allows UMSL criminologists to work directly with St. Louis police officers to evaluate and implement crime reduction initiatives.

“Dr. Rosenfeld displays integrity in each study he performs, giving the City of St. Louis fair and unbiased data to use to address public problems,” wrote nominator Francis G. Slay, mayor of St. Louis. “The research and explanations Dr. Rosenfeld offers helps to make St. Louis safer.”

Rosenfeld currently serves on the Science Advisory Board of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs. In 2010, he served as president of the American Society of Criminology where he used the platform to promote a broad overview of crime explanations and the data improvements needed to make them more relevant to the day-to-day work of criminal justice policymakers and practitioners.

“Rick is, in many ways that distinguish him from others, a truly public-spirited scholar,” wrote nominator Jeremy Travis, president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “He knows the importance of the issues he is studying. He is not content with scholarly distance from the messy world of crime, policing, punishment and the complicated dynamics of community life. Rather, he enjoys the immediacy of his work and understands that his research can shape public understanding and public policy.”

Rosenfeld served as a prestigious Curators’ Professor from 2007 to 2013, is a Fellow of the American Society of Criminology and is the only UMSL faculty member to receive the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in the three categories of teaching, research and service. In addition, he served as chair of the National Academy of Sciences Roundtable on Understanding Crime Trends from 2013 to 2015.

The UM System President’s Awards are presented annually to faculty members across the four campuses of the UM System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university. Rosenfeld will be formally recognized by UM System Interim President Michael Middleton during an awards celebration to be held in June.

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