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Top female scholar named to lead ASU criminology school

portrait of ASU professor Cassia Spohn
April 03, 2014

Cassia Spohn will be the next director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, part of the College of Public Programs at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus. Spohn, a Foundation Professor and director of the school’s doctoral program, takes over for Scott Decker, who will remain as a Foundation Professor.

“Dr. Spohn assuming this important leadership role is an ideal outcome for the school, college and university,” says Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Programs. “She is a scholar of the first order, whose commitment to students is well-known.”

Spohn is one of the most cited female scholars in American criminology and criminal justice journals, and is one of the nation’s foremost experts on criminal sentencing. She was recently asked to provide analysis to a federal panel tasked with reforming the way the military handles sexual assaults. Last year, the American Society of Criminology named Spohn a fellow. She was also given ASU’s Faculty 2013 Achievement Award for Defining Edge Research in Social Sciences. Prior to joining ASU in 2006, Spohn was department chair of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She received her doctorate in political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"I am very much looking forward to working with the faculty and staff of the school and with the dean of the college to ensure that the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice remains on an upward trajectory,” says Spohn. “My goal is to ensure that our undergraduate and graduate students continue to receive a high-quality education."

U.S. News and World Report ranked the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice’s graduate program No. 12 in the nation. Koppell credits the school’s success to the leadership of Decker, who is also a fellow in the American Society of Criminology, and one of the leading scholars in the field.

“Dr. Decker has helped elevate the school to a nationally recognized leadership position in the field with highly ranked academic programs – including a highly-ranked doctoral program created under his leadership – and cutting-edge criminology research that has attracted both top faculty and students,” says Koppell.

The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice has experienced unprecedented growth since it was created in 2006 from a department at ASU West. In the span of eight years, the faculty more than doubled in size. Enrollment grew from a few hundred students to more than 2,400 – including 900 online students – making it one of the largest on the downtown campus.