Eastern Kentucky University didn’t have to look far to find a dean with the personal reputation to match its internationally renowned College of Justice & Safety.
Dr. Victor Kappeler, an associate dean of the College since 2012 and a widely recognized scholar whose textbooks are commonly used by universities worldwide, will succeed Dr. Allen Ault, who has announced his retirement, effective June 30, after serving 12 years in the position.
Kappeler, who earned associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from EKU, joined his alma mater’s faculty in 1992 and has served in various capacities, including director of graduate studies and department chair, prior to being named associate dean. In 2007, he was named an EKU Foundation Professor, the University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching, scholarship and service. Five years later, Kappeler received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Criminology’s Division of Critical Criminology for his “sustained and distinguished scholarship, teaching and service in the field of critical criminology.”
In making the announcement, EKU Provost Dr. Janna Vice called Kappeler “a visionary and collaborative leader (who) will be both an advocate and an ambassador for Justice & Safety.”
Kappeler has participated in virtually every aspect of the College’s operations, from teaching and curriculum development to personnel and budgeting. He has been involved in the support and supervision of faculty and staff, the development and oversight of the Student Advising Center, the Kentucky Center for School Safety, and the three academic departments and two academic schools of the College, and worked closely with the grant and contract units.
“I have seen firsthand where Justice & Safety has been, and where it needs to go in the future,” Kappeler said. “While we have achieved a great deal in terms of building the prestige of our programs, and we have enjoyed many successes, I believe we cannot be satisfied and that much work still remains to be done to further secure academic excellence, sustainable growth, student success, and international recognition.”
EKU’s College of Justice & Safety, designated as a “Program of Distinction” by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, employs more than 60 full-time faculty and serves more than 3,000 students. It manages more than $33 million in external grants and contracts, representing more than 85 percent of grant funding secured by the University.
Kappeler said he would “pragmatically” address challenges such as the decline of state funding, changing regional demographics, a visible ceiling on tuition-based revenue and an increasingly competitive marketplace while at the same time seeking to grow enrollments, raise academic standards and expand services in a fashion that protects and creates revenue streams.
“While it has become cliché to say that higher education must ‘do more with less,’ I feel it might be more accurate to say we must do more with what we have and do more to secure what we need,” he said. “Securing resources in today’s marketplace entails sober evaluation of programs and alignment of all aspects of the College with an ethos of innovation.”
Kappeler is the author or co-author of six books, including “Community Policing: A Contemporary Perspective,” “Policing in America,” “Homeland Security,” “Critical Issues in Police Civil Liability,” “The Mythology of Crime and Criminal Justice,” and “Forces of Deviance: Understanding the Dark Side of Policing.” He has also served as editor or co-editor of four other books, in addition to writing numerous book chapters, journal articles and other works.
In 2014, Kappeler was invited by the White House to participate in a policy review listening session and discuss federal programs and policies related to equipping state and local law enforcement agencies. He is frequently sought by media nationwide for his expertise on issues related to policing and criminal justice.
In addition to his three degrees from EKU, Kappeler earned a doctoral degree in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University.
He begins his new position on July 1.