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Message from the Chair

Finn Esbensen
Fall 2017
As the Chair of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, I welcome you to our website.  To familiarize yourself with the Department, I encourage you to consult the newsletters available on our website.  These informative newsletters highlight departmental activities and achievements each year.

We begin this academic year with sad news: one of our most popular teachers, Professor Robert “Bob” J. Bursik, Jr., passed on July 19, 2017 just one year after his retirement. In addition to being an excellent teacher, regaling students with his humor and wit, Bob was an accomplished scholar and is widely recognized as one of the key persons responsible for the resurgence of community studies of crime in the late 1980s. His book Neighborhoods and Crime: The Dimensions of Effective Community Control, co-authored with Harold G. Grasmick (1993), Lexington Books, identified many of the important elements necessary for a comprehensive understanding of how community organization, through its formal and informal networks, could work to control levels of crime and delinquency. His other areas of research included crime and immigration, contextual analysis, changes in urban areas and crime over time, and broader tests of core criminological hypotheses. Bob served as Editor of the discipline’s flagship journal Criminology from 1997 to 2003, and was named Fellow of the American Society of Criminology (ASC) in 1998. He also served as President of the ASC in 2008. An interview with Bob for the ASC Oral History project can be found here.

We are pleased to welcome two new colleagues, Rachel Ellis (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania) and Heidi Grundetjern (Ph.D. University of Oslo), who join the faculty as assistant professors. Rachel’s main areas of interest include prisons, gender and punishment, and qualitative methods. Heidi’s research focuses on gender and crime, illegal drug markets, and qualitative methods.

We are proud to report that the Criminology and Criminal Justice Undergraduate Student Association has established itself as a vibrant student organization and the UMSL chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, the national criminal justice honor society inducted 11 new members this past spring semester. For information about this honor society, contact the faculty advisor: Professor TJ Taylor.

If you have questions, I would be happy to hear from you by phone (314) 516-4619 or email

For information about the Undergraduate program, contact Dr. Tim Maher at (314) 516-5026 or

For information about the Master's program or our Doctoral program, contact Dr. Elaine Doherty at (314) 516-5033 or

Best wishes for a productive and informative year.

Dr. Finn-Aage Esbensen, Chair
E. Desmond Lee Professor of Youth Crime and Violence