November 30, 2020

Criminology courses to be taught at Webster

Remy Cross will be coming to Webster to teach sociology courses, emphasizing in criminology. COURTESY OF REMY CROSS

The day before Thanksgiving, Remy Cross received notification he’d been selected as the new full-time sociology professor at Webster University; he was one of over 100 applicants who applied for the position. Cross, who currently teaches at the University of South Florida in Tampa, will begin teaching classes at Webster in fall 2012.
Cross is also a criminology specialist. Currently, the sociology major has a 4000 level course on criminology and a class on deviancy.  Expansion in the major depends on student involvement.
Katie Maxwell, sophomore math and sociology double-major, recently switched her major from music education to sociology. Maxwell plans to work in education, and said the criminology courses will be valuable to her career.
“I love learning about people and the way they think, and how they work in groups,” Maxwell said. “It’d be great to have someone who specializes in criminology. Personally, I want to go into education, so it’d be nice to have (knowledge in criminology) to help teach my students how to avoid those (behaviors).”
Cross attributes the rising student interest in criminology to popular crime shows.
“We joke around in the department here (at the University of South Florida) about what we call the ‘CSI effect,’” he said. “Students who have seen the show ‘CSI’ want to come in and do something they’ve seen on the show. I do think the resurgence of popular crime shows certainly led to an increase of interest in the last few years.”
Cross said the events on Sept. 11, 2011, may have had an impact on criminology interest, as well.  After the attacks 10 years ago, Cross said people wanted to understand what happened and why, which lead to more people studying counter-terrorism and violent extremism.  The increase in student desire to take more courses in the study of criminal behavior is one of the reasons the department for Behavioral and Social Sciences put out a search for a new full-time professor who specialized in criminology and could also teach a broad range of courses.
“We wanted somebody who had some experience in teaching, particularly teaching in a liberal arts environment like this one here,” Michael Hulsizer, chair of the Behavioral and Social Sciences department, said. “We wanted somebody who could work with students and, ideally, do research with students, as well. We felt that with Dr. Cross, he was able to give us all of that.  He connected with students.”
Currently, there is only one full-time sociology professor for the major, Danielle MacCartney, and a handful of adjunct faculty.  The department requested to advertise for another full-time position, and the position addition was approved last spring.  Right away, they began the search and advertised throughout summer 2011 and into early fall.
In mid-October, over 100 applications were gathered and narrowed down to about 12.  Phone interviews were conducted and four candidates made the next cut.  A daylong interview on campus was held for the final four, and each interviewee gave a presentation to a sociology class.  Cross lectured about the Occupy movements and its relation to the study of criminal behavior.
“Students were really engaged and he did a great job,” Hulsizer said. “He really knocked everybody’s socks off with that.”
Cross’s background is in small group behavior as it pertains to issues of deviants and violence.  His research covers specific topics such as the policing of protests, terrorism and drug cartel violence.  Cross will bring more diverse and broad topics to the major and add to McCartney’s topics.
“The good thing is our area of interests don’t overlap that much, so I’m able to cover some areas she may not be an expert in, in the same way she may be able to cover some areas I may not be an expert in,” Cross said.
Next fall’s schedule for the sociology department is in the works, but Cross and Hulsizer expect that Cross will teach some intro courses as well as some higher-level courses that are specific to criminology.
“What we want to do now is test students’ interest,” Hulsizer said. “(We’ll) offer some classes in criminology and expand in that, and if we get a lot of interest in those, we start with more coursework and put some additional adjuncts in that area.  Maybe even put in another faculty member.”
Cross finished his doctorate at the University of California Irvine and received his Ph.D. last summer. He served as a visiting professor at the University of South Florida for only a year, and knew he would be looking for a different position somewhere else after his year was up.  Cross heard about the open position at Webster at an annual sociologist meeting last year in Las Vegas.
“I did my research on (Webster University) and it seemed like a place I could be happy working,” Cross said.  “I was really impressed with the way they presented the school and the position.”

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