A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Gary LaFree named UMD Distinguished University Professor

Gary LaFreeThe Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is pleased to announce that Dr. Gary LaFree has been awarded the title of Distinguished University Professor. This official title is the highest academic honor conferred upon University of Maryland faculty members and is reserved for a small number of exceptional scholars. Professor LaFree joins five other CCJS faculty who have received this award: Lawrence Sherman, John Laub, Terrence Thornberry, Sally Simpson, and Peter Reuter.

In recognition of Professor LaFree’s unique contributions to research on the human causes and consequences of terrorism. Despite the fact that terrorism fundamentally engages the two central themes of criminology—justice and etiology—until recently, the study of terrorism had been neglected by criminologists. Professor LaFree, perhaps more than any other living criminologist, has changed this situation, bringing the study of terrorism and responses to terrorism into the criminological mainstream. He has done so by developing a corpus of research on the etiology of terrorism and criminal justice responses to terrorism, by arguing that the study of terrorism be seen as an integral part of criminology, by promoting the criminology of terrorism to wider academic and policy audiences, and by providing an academic structure to educate a new generation of criminologists who will advance the field. 

Professor LaFree has also been highly influential in promoting criminological perspectives on terrorism to broader audiences. He was the Founding Director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). As the lead investigator at START, Professor LaFree has played a major role in the design and completion of more than 50 projects involving individual researchers and research teams from around the world. In addition, Professor LaFree served as President of the American Society of Criminology (ASC). Professor LaFree was named a Fellow of the American Society of Criminology in 2006 and a member of the National Academy of Science's Committee on Law and Justice in 2008. He has also served as the Past President of the ASC’s Division on International Criminology (1991-1993), the chair of the American Sociological Association’s Section on Crime, Law, and Deviance (1991-1993), the Executive Board of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation (2001-2006), and the Executive Committee of the Justice Research Statistics Association (2000-2001, 1993-1994).

CCJS is thrilled to honor Professor Gary LaFree as a Distinguished University Professor in recognition of his distinguished achievement in teaching, research, and service to the University, the profession, and the community!

A version of this article first appeared on the University of Maryland’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice website.