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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Institute awards over $23,000 in research grants

Priscilla McChristian, interim director of the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity, announced today that the Institute will fund six research projects aimed at reducing and eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in Arkansas communities.

The Institute’s grant program was established to use academic research for the development of programs to investigate and inform possible solutions to identified structural racism.

“The selected projects address a variety of important topics in the areas of criminal justice, community outreach, immigration, and higher education. Each of the projects selected will provide data that will aid the Institute in implementing tangible programs and initiatives,’’ said McChristian.

Dr. Michael Craw, assistant professor and coordinator of the Center for Public Collaboration in the Institute of Government, was awarded $4,980 to determine the effect active neighborhood associations have on the quality of life of residents in low-income areas. By using data collected in the evaluation of eight Little Rock communities, Craw will examine partnerships between community-led organizations and area residents. He will also use data to make recommendations that promote neighborhood stability and development.

A multi-disciplinary project was submitted by faculty members Dr. Timothy Brown, Department of Criminal Justice; Dr. Ken Galchus, director of the Kenneth Pat Wilson Center for Economic Education, Department of Economics; and Dr. Andy Terry, Department of Economics and Finance. The project was awarded a $4,500 grant to study how the lack of financial literacy creates higher instances of recidivism among ex-offenders. Outcomes of the study will be used to develop and implement a training curriculum that will be applied to re-entry programs of the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

Dr. John A. Kuykendall, associate professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership, submitted a proposal that addresses academic success rates of black male athletes attending universities in Arkansas. The study was granted $3,550 and data collected will be used to help policymakers and university administrators expand college access, improve graduation rates, and eradicate racial disparities in intercollegiate athletics.

Jennifer Miller, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Criminal Justice, received $5,000 to research sentencing disparities for violent felonies excluding homicides in Arkansas between 2000 and 2010. Miller will analyze high crime rates in Jefferson County, especially Pine Bluff, which has been listed among the top ten most dangerous cities in the country since the 1990s. Miller hopes her research will influence future legislation regarding sentencing policies in the state.

A collaborative project proposed by faculty in criminal justice and social work will focus on the Arkansas juvenile justice system. Dr. Shaun A. Thomas, Dr. Timothy C. Brown, Dr. Emily R. Berthalot, of the Department of Criminal Justice, and Dr. John Miller of the School of Social Work, will use data collected from 10 years of Racial Attitudes Surveys to augment previous research aimed at understanding the causes of disproportionate minority contact in the juvenile justice system. The research project was awarded $2,750.

Dr. Haiyan Xie, associate professor and coordinator of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering, has been awarded $4,500 to investigate immigration issues in the construction industry in Arkansas. Through data analysis and interviews, Xie will identify what factors influence inefficiency, malfunction, and violations of equal hire in the industry and provide best practices for future productivity and improvement strategies.

These faculty and graduate student awards were chosen by a five-person committee of faculty and professional staff from the Chancellor’s Committee on Race and Ethnicity, chaired by McChristian.

The UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity was founded in July 2011 to seek racial and ethnic justice in Arkansas by remembering and understanding the past, informing and engaging the present, and shaping and defining the future. It serves as a resource for producing multidisciplinary, research-driven data— including historical, sociological, educational, and economic analyses—to fulfill its mission.

For more information, contact the Institute at race-ethnicity@ualr.edu or by phone at 501-569-8932.