Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Michael Smith to bolster UTSA’s community ties as new leader of research center

Michael Smith to bolster UTSA’s community ties as new leader of research center

NOVEMBER 2, 2022 — The Center for Applied Community and Policy Research in the UTSA College for Health, Community and Policy (HCAP) has named criminology and criminal justice professor Michael Smith as its new director. Smith will lead the center into its new phase as the college continues to grow and evolve.

Formerly known as the Policy Studies Center, the Center for Applied Community and Policy Research focuses on building ties with the San Antonio community and beyond through community-based research.

The research center will strengthen HCAP’s mission to improve the well-being of the community and affect change for complex social issues. From public safety to access to health care and more, the work from faculty and student researchers will benefit the City of San Antonio.


“The Center for Applied Community and Policy Research is a critical piece of our research infrastructure and we are delighted Dr. Smith has agreed to take the helm.”



“Any research or evaluation project that has to do with government programs or services or nonprofits working in local communities would be well-suited to run through the new center,” Smith said. “It is very much in alignment with the mission of the college.”

One such project is the City of San Antonio Neighborhood Safety Program Assessment. Smith assembled the project team after conversations with the City regarding its  interest in evaluating the impact of its programs around public safety.

The team consists of Kellie Lynch, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, Erica Sosa, professor of public health, and Julia Wolf, postdoctoral fellow. The team will conduct a comprehensive review of scholarly literature focusing on evaluations of public safety programs and initiatives similar to those identified by the City of San Antonio. After review, the team will provide recommendations on which programs are best to implement in the future.

Smith is also the principal investigator (PI) of four violent crime reduction projects with communities and law enforcement agencies in Texas, Washington and Utah—work that will move over to the center as it is re-established. Criminology and criminal justice professors Rob Tillyer, and Brandon Tregle, are Smith’s co-PIs.

“The Center for Applied Community and Policy Research is a critical piece of our research infrastructure and we are delighted Dr. Smith has agreed to take the helm,” said Lynne Cossman, dean of HCAP. “He's currently working with the City of San Antonio on several projects, many of which involve faculty from across the college.”

In addition to his role as a PI, Smith hopes to facilitate many interdisciplinary projects in the future and provide insight and support for grant proposals.

Smith holds a J.D. from the University of South Carolina and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University. He is a former municipal and county police officer whose research involves such issues as the use of police force, racial disparities in police-civilian contacts and violent crime.


EXPLORE FURTHER

Future plans for the center include an open house in the spring semester to re-introduce the center to the university and to showcase some of the work already being done. The center will also host research symposiums a few times a year to highlight the community engagement between faculty and the city.

The Center for Applied Community and Policy Research is housed on the UTSA Downtown Campus.

Amanda Cerreto



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