Department of Sociology and Criminology Holds Annual Award Ceremony

Published: Nov 01, 2013
Department of Sociology and Criminology Holds Annual Award Ceremony

Award Recipients: Laura Tach, John Kramer, and James McJunkin

Three individuals received awards at the annual Department of Sociology and Criminology Award Ceremony held Thursday, October 31st at the Nittany Lion Inn. These individuals were recognized for their success and influence as leaders, for significant career achievements, and for being outstanding role models for current students.

(left to right Dean Susan Welch, Laura Tach, John Kramer, James McJunkin and Department Head John Iceland.)

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John Kramer received the Faculty Award. Dr. Kramer is a professor of sociology and criminology at Penn State. He has been a long-standing faculty member and recently celebrated his 40th year at Penn State in August. During his tenure, he served as executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing currently located at Penn State’s University Park Campus. He continued to serve as executive director and as a faculty member until his resignation from the Commission in 1998. John began assisting the United States Sentencing Commission in 1995 and served as staff director, during a two-year leave, from 1996-1998. Dr. Kramer’s research focuses on sentencing, sentencing disparity, and sentencing reform. His work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Justice, the Falk Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. His research has been published in major journals in the field including Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Social Problems, and the Journal of Quantitative Criminology. His book, Sentencing Guidelines: Lessons from Pennsylvania written with Dr. Jeff Ulmer, examines the history of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing’s policy choices in writing sentencing guidelines and the impact of the guidelines on sentencing decisions in Pennsylvania. John and his wife of 45 years, Marcia, moved to State College in 1973 from Mankato, Minnesota. They have two children: a daughter, Kim, who lives in Boston, and a son, Chad, who lives in Olympia, Washington.

Laura Tach received the Young Alumni Award. Laura is an assistant professor in the Department of Policy Analysis & Management at Cornell University. Laura graduated from the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State in 2004 with a B.A. in Sociology and minors in Statistics and African & African American Studies. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard University in 2010. Prior to joining the faculty at Cornell, Laura was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. Laura’s research examines how social policies affect urban poverty and family life. With funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Science Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she has conducted studies of mixed-income neighborhoods and poverty deconcentration policies. With funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Ford Foundation, she has also studied family instability and economic coping strategies among the urban poor. Her recent articles appear in journals such as Demography, Annual Review of Sociology, Social Problems, and the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences. She has also served as a consultant on projects for the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Urban Institute. Laura resides in Ithaca, New York  with her husband Matthew and son Dexter.

James McJunkin received the Outstanding Alumni Award. James is a 1982 graduate of Penn State, where he earned a B.S. in Administration of Justice. He began his professional career as a state trooper with the Pennsylvania State Police. During his 25 year career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), he served in the San Antonio, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. field offices, and held significant leadership positions at FBI Headquarters. After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, he was promoted to the Counterterrorism Division at FBI Headquarters where, over the course of just nine years, he held several positions of unit chief, including  assistant director at FBI Headquarters, acting special agent in charge, and assistant director in charge of the Washington (D.C.) Field Office, the FBI’s second largest. In 2004, Director Robert Mueller personally appointed Jim to direct a multi-agency task force assembled to thwart an Al Qaeda-sponsored terror attack against the US Homeland. He was later recognized as the recipient of the US Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award in connection with his leadership of this task force. Jim guided FBI efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan in direct support of the US Military, and he supervised all FBI counterterrorism operations worldwide. He has traveled extensively and built lasting relationships and partnerships with foreign intelligence and law enforcement agencies in those countries. He retired from the FBI in 2012 and currently serves at Director of Corporate Security for Discover Financial Services. He now lives in a quiet suburb north of Chicago with his wife Carla and their three children, James Jr., Jared, and Jon.

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Congratulations to all of the award recipients!