Faculty news and achievements

Wilder School faculty produce outstanding scholarship, service, and leadership locally and nationally

Wilder School faculty receive VCU COVID-19 rapid research funding

Kathryn Howell
Kathryn Howell
Ben Teresa
Ben Teresa
Elsie Harper Anderson
Elsie Harper-Anderson

Wilder School faculty members and RVA Eviction Lab co-directors, Kathryn Howell, Ph.D., and Ben Teresa, Ph.D., as well as Elsie Harper-Anderson, Ph.D., director of the Wilder School’s Ph.D. program in public policy and administration, were among those selected as initial recipients to receive funding under a VCU COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity grant with support from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation and the Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research.

Nearly 70 faculty applied for the support, aimed at encouraging researchers across a broad range of subjects to quickly expand their work to address and diminish the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health system and our community. Howell and Teresa’s research proposal was titled, “Data for Prevention of Eviction and Proactive Engagement with Tenants and Landlords.” Harper-Anderson’s research proposal was titled, “An Analysis of the Economic Impact of COVID-19 and the CARES Act on African-American Workers and Businesses in Virginia.”

Brubaker elected as vice president of the Society of the Study of Social Problems

Sarah Jane Brubaker
Sarah Jane Brubaker

Sarah Jane Brubaker, Ph.D., professor in the Wilder School’s criminal justice and public policy and administration programs, was elected vice president of the Society of the Study for Social Problems (SSSP). An international professional organization, SSSP aims to promote sociological research and teaching on significant problems in social life. It also serves as a community for scholars, practitioners, advocates and students to create and explore innovative approaches to addressing social problems.

“I’m thrilled to have been elected to this role,” said Brubaker, “and I’m excited to continue working to address some of the most pressing issues that society is facing today. Through the efforts of SSSP, along with the work that we’re doing at VCU, we can play a leading role in creating a society that strives for equity and justice and that centers those at the margins.”

Prior to being elected vice president, Brubaker served as a member of the SSSP board of directors. She has also worked to develop the society’s sexual harassment policies as chair of its anti-harassment committee, and won its first Kathleen S. Lowney Mentoring Award in 2017.

Pelfrey joins board of Crime and Justice Research Alliance

William Pelfry
William Pelfry

William Pelfrey, Ph.D., professor and program chair of homeland security and emergency preparedness at the Wilder School, was invited to join the board of the Crime and Justice Research Alliance (CJRA), a research advisory group that serves the two major criminology/criminal justice associations, the American Society of Criminology (ASC) and Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). CJRA is the research and lobbying arm of ASC and ACJS. As one of the 10 CJRA board members, Pelfrey will review policy proposals, offer recommendations for legislative initiatives and assist in identifying the trajectory of scholarship.

“This is a three-year appointment, and I’m honored to be on the board with some highly respected researchers. I’ll do my best to represent the Wilder School,” said Pelfrey.

Cleary’s interrogation bill signed by Gov. Northam

Haley Cleary
Hayley Cleary

For the past year and a half, Hayley Cleary, Ph.D., an associate professor of criminal justice and public policy at the Wilder School, has worked with Virginia State Senator Jennifer McClellan to gain support for a bill that would mandate all Virginia state law enforcement agencies to electronically record custodial interrogations conducted in a place of detention. Cleary’s bill, HB1023, passed the House, and on April 11, Gov. Ralph Northam signed it into law.

“I am elated,” said Cleary. “It’s exciting to see Virginia do the right thing. Other states are moving in this direction. The great thing about this legislation — and what makes it different from a lot of other policy initiatives — is that stakeholders all agreed that recording is a good idea.

“I’m enormously grateful to Sen. McClellan, Del. Adams and their staff for seeing this issue to the finish line.”

Liebert becomes chair-elect of ASPA’s Section on Personnel Administration and Labor Relations (SPALR)

Salta Liebert
Salta Liebert

Wilder School associate professor Saltanat “Salta” Liebert, Ph.D., is chair-elect for ASPA’s Section on Personnel Administration and Labor Relations.

Created in 1979, the Section on Personnel Administration and Labor Relations (SPALR) of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) promotes the importance of human resource management and labor relations in public service organizations. The section sponsors two prominent peer-reviewed journals: Review of Public Personnel Administration and Public Personnel Management.

Leibert will assume the role of chair in 2022 for a two-year term. “I’m very excited about serving ASPA and our larger public administration community in the role of the chair-elect (and then chair) of the Section of Personnel Administration and Labor Relations,” shared Leibert.

Herbert Simon Best Book Award goes to Dean Gooden

Race and Social Equity book cover

In June, Wilder School Dean Susan Gooden, Ph.D.’s book, “Race and Social Equity: A Nervous Area of Government,” was selected as the winner of the Herbert Simon Best Book Award from the Public Administration section of the American Political Science Association. The Simon Award recognizes a text that has had an enduring impact on the public administration community within the past five years.

“The selection committee was impressed at how ‘Race and Social Equity’ has influenced subsequent scholarship,” said Award Committee Chairman Don Moynihan, Ph.D. “Even as the field of public administration and social science more broadly has struggled with the challenge, Gooden reframes how issues of race and inequality are negotiated in government settings.”

In the book published in 2014, Gooden contends that social equity — specifically, racial equity — is a nervous area of government which has stifled individuals and organizations, leading to an inability to reduce racial inequities in government.

In July 2020, Gooden published a new volume, “Global Equity in Administration: Nervous Areas of Governments,” that explores the concept of equity and nervousness around the world.


New faculty

Lindsey L. Evans, Ph.D.

Evans joins the Wilder School’s Master of Public Administration program as an assistant professor

Lindsey Evans

Lindsey L. Evans, Ph.D., is a Wilder School graduate, earning her Ph.D. in public policy and administration in 2017. Previously an assistant professor in the University of Louisville’s Department of Urban and Public Affairs, Evans was recognized by her colleagues and received the Candy Kudos Award in 2019. In addition, Evans has received numerous awards from the American Society for Public Administration, including a conference award rom its Section on Nonprofit Policy, Practice and Partnerships in 2018, and the Chester A. Newland Presidential Citation of Merit Award in 2016 and 2017. Dr. Evans research centers on the connection between diversity and performance on nonprofit boards.

Shruti Syal, Ph.D.

Syal joins the Urban and Regional Studies and Planning program as an assistant professor

Shruti Syal

Shruti Syal, Ph.D., earned her doctoral degree in regional planning from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Prior to coming to the Wilder School, Syal served as a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Colorado, Denver. In August 2019, she was a recipient of the Gill-Chin Lim Award for Best Dissertation on International Planning from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP). Dr. Syal’s research examines bridging environmental and equity planning using a Social-Ecological Systems perspective.

Amanda Goodson, Ph.D.

Goodson joins the Wilder School’s Criminal Justice program as an assistant professor

Amanda Goodson

Amanda Goodson, Ph.D., completed her doctorate in criminal justice at Sam Houston State University in May 2020. Her dissertation topic was “Police Perceptions of Victim Culpability in Incidents of Heterosexual and Same-Sex Intimate Partner Violence.”

Goodson recently served as the lead doctoral research assistant in the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) grant, Research and Evaluation of Houston Police Department’s Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Survivors. In 2019, Goodson received the Division of Women and Crime Graduate Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology (ASC). Her research focuses on victims of intimate partner violence.