Director, UAA Justice Center
Hometown: Marseille, France
Fun Fact: Moved from France to Madison, Wisconsin, in the 10th grade, and his slight Midwest accent doesn’t give away his French roots
Part of UAA’s ongoing strategic vision is to be a part of the public square. This means engaging in quality community engagement, partnerships with public and private entities off campus, and support for critical inquiry. Andre Rosay—as the head of UAA’s Justice Center for the last three years and a Justice faculty researcher for 10—gets the idea of public square.
For as long as Andre has been director, the Justice Center has been conducting an Alaska Victimization Survey, collecting data on sexual and domestic violence at both the statewide and regional level. André worked closely with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on developing the Alaska survey so that its results could be easily compared with national-level results. Now, as Visiting Executive Research Fellow for the NIJ over the next two years, Andre has been tasked with analyzing national data in order to produce a comprehensive report about the victimization of women and men within American Indian and Alaska Native populations.
Before this prestigious appointment, Andre took leave in 2010 for about four months to provide research assistance for Governor Sean Parnell’s Choose Respect initiative to stop the epidemic of domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse in Alaska. And even before that, he partnered with the Alaska State Troopers on a research project specific to village public safety officers (VPSOs) and their role in the prosecution rate of reports of violence. His findings supported a dramatic expansion of the VPSO program in rural Alaska.
“My work here has much more significant impact on policy and practice,” Andre says. And he says “much more” in comparison to his prior focus on statistics at the University of Delaware where he was an assistant professor in their Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice before moving to Alaska. “At UAA we work very closely with the legislature, closely with other government agencies to make sure we can translate our research to real world applications. I still have the interest in statistics, but the work here is far more applied.”
Since coming to UAA, Andre has been nationally recognized for his expertise in building researcher-practitioner partnerships that successfully improve policy and practice.
It sounds as though he sought out the position at UAA—it fits him so well. But really it was a fluke that he found himself considering living in Alaska. An old roommate from graduate school at the University of Maryland at College Park, Mark Skolnick, had become a student at UAA and Andre came up one summer to visit him. (Mark is now an adjunct professor in Aviation Technology at UAA).
“When I got here, I just realized that this was home,” says Andre, an avid outdoorsman. “I just fell in love with the place. I noticed the Justice Center had a faculty position open and I immediately applied for it. It was more of a personal decision to stay, but a lot of people back in Delaware thought it was a huge mistake for me professionally. They thought I was going to kill my professional career.”
To borrow a phrase from the native Frenchman: Au contraire. The very opposite was true.
“UAA has given me the flexibility to pursue a variety of different interests,” he says, countering the naysayers. “There is a lot of support for research here and there is no way I would have had the professional opportunities in Delaware that I’ve had here.”
Over the last 10 years, Andre has supported vast improvements to justice systems in Alaska, and his research directly impacts offender accountability and public safety. He credits his accomplishments to the practitioners that he works with and the administrative staff at UAA who support research productivity (which are desperately needed given that André received more than $1 million in grants last year!). He also credits the many students and research professionals who have worked with him on research projects.
In the spirit of opportunity, Andre involves undergraduate students in Justice Center research as much as possible. In fact, what really made the difference to him as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying psychology and criminal justice was the opportunity to get involved with undergraduate research himself. He worked as a research assistant in a psychology lab, then went on to volunteer at a local juvenile detention center and later interned for a correctional program that engaged kids in camping, canoeing and rock climbing.
It’s clear Andre has recognized the value of the public square all his life. He feels privileged to work at UAA, an institution that strives to enhance community by disseminating research that improves the human condition.