Tusty ten Bensel named director of UA Little Rock School of Criminal Justice

Dr. Tusty ten Bensel, associate professor of criminal justice, has recently been named the director of the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“I’m very excited about serving as the director for our school,” ten Bensel said. “Our school has a number of exciting things happening. We’ve got a good undergraduate base and our graduate programs were just ranked in the U.S. News and World Report. We are focused on student mentoring and community-engaged research. I feel like our school is shining, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be the director of our school.”

When UA Little Rock reorganized colleges in 2020, the criminal justice department evolved to the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology when the program joined the College of Business, Health, and Human Services. Ten Bensel said the school’s faculty and staff are looking forward to the future and new ideas.

“We have an awesome group of faculty members in our school and they make this job so much easier,” ten Bensel said. “We are a very supportive and collaborative group and I’m excited about the news things we will do moving forward post-pandemic. We are coming together over the summer to talk about our vision, goals, and strategies for the school and to create a five-year strategic plan.”

The School of Criminal Justice is home to five degree programs, including an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, one of which is fully online, as well as the state’s only doctorate program in criminal justice.

Ten Bensel, the former graduate coordinator for the School of Criminal Justice, is also the director of the Justice Research and Policy Center at UA Little Rock, which works to cultivate, support, and disseminate research that is relevant to the State of Arkansas in the areas of juvenile and senior justice, crime analysis, environmental criminology, violence and victimization, and corrections.

“My goal as the director is for our school to be the institution where Arkansas criminal justice organizations come to when they need research, evaluations, or recommendations for their programs,” she said. “We are the flagship criminal justice program in the state and I’d like UA Little Rock to become the hub for criminal justice research that helps our agency partners. Our faculty and students are continuing to engage in cutting edge research to improve the criminal justice system and address the community’s most pressing issues.”

As director of the school, ten Bensel is also looking forward to her role as a faculty mentor.  

“I get to work one-on-one with the faculty on their research and professional goals. That is one of the more exciting parts of my job,” she said. “Having teaching and research that impact the community is why I got into academia. Although I’m excited about leading our school, being in the classroom and helping students graduate and learn are close to my heart. I will try to hang on to those parts of my job as much as possible.”

She received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in criminal justice as well as a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from UA Little Rock and a Ph.D. in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is also a graduate of the Women in Education Leadership program at the Harvard Business School and president of the Southwestern Association of Criminal Justice.

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