The Office of Academic Affairs and the Center for the Common Good are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Jessica Hodge, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, as the faculty director for community engagement.

Dr. Hodge has a record of community engagement both at St. Thomas and at her previous institution, the University of Missouri – Kansas City. For instance, in her capstone course at St. Thomas, Dr. Hodge’s students worked with Breaking Free, a local nonprofit organization focused on addressing issues related to sex trafficking, on a variety of projects that assisted the organization in furthering its mission. Because of the success of this partnership and the added value to the curriculum, the department will continue to incorporate community engagement within this course. At her previous institution, students were engaged with organizations through efforts such as volunteering service hours and coordinating fundraising activities.

Dr. Hodge recently finished work on an evaluation project funded by the Vera Institute of Justice that examined the development and implementation process of a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) in two correctional facilities in Kansas. This project resulted in a national resource guide that is now available for correctional facilities across the country. She is currently working on a community-based research project that involves various nonprofit organizations throughout the Kansas City metro area, examining the victimization experiences of individuals identifying as LGBTQ, and the interactions between the LGBTQ community and law enforcement. Dr. Hodge has also worked with students on undergraduate research projects looking at the criminal justice system.

While in this role, Dr. Hodge will support the mission of the university and our strategic priorities by helping establish meaningful community connections that will assist with deeper learning through:

  • Sustainable volunteerism and reflection
  • Academic community engagement (service-learning) design, mentorship and support
  • Community-based research

Dr. Theresa Ricke-Kiely, executive director of the Center for the Common Good, and Dr. Robert Riley, vice provost for Academic Affairs, look forward to working with Dr. Hodge, noting that, “Jessica brings experience and energy to this work, and we are excited about this critical piece in the work of the Center and the university’s mission in fostering sustainable change for the common good.”

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Hodge to this important position.

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