Today@Sam Article

Victim Studies Names First Department Chair

June 8, 2020
SHSU Media Contact: Veronica Gonzalez Hoff

Story By: Veronica Gonzalez Hoff 

Picture1.jpg2The first Department of Victim Studies in the nation is proud to announce its first department chair, Shelly Clevenger from Illinois State University. Clevenger has been in Illinois for eight years, focusing her research on topics of sexual assault, intimate partner abuse, and cyber victimization. She is looking forward to joining the College of Criminal Justice in June as the department continues to pave the way in victimology.

“We're starting to see victims differently. I think in the past they were often seen by law enforcement and courts as kind of a means to an end or part of the case,” Clevenger said. “I've seen over the years from my own research they [victims] have an impact in the criminal justice system and they have their own needs that need to be met. I think the victim studies department can help prepare students to meet that need.”

Clevenger grew up in Pennsylvania and received her Ph.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). She considers herself an activist through her research and community work of different forms of raising awareness.

In September, Clevenger facilitated “Survivors: Stories of Domestic Violence” with her students using a combination of visuals such as cardboard cutouts to depict the bodies of victims of domestic violence, and student and community volunteers to stand in for local survivors quoting their stories.


To help raise awareness and support for the theatrical event, Clevenger and her students developed the “Purple Light Project,” by painting donated lamps purple, the color that represents domestic violence awareness. The lamps included hotline numbers and were displayed along with a poster throughout the Illinois State University campus and the community.

“I hope to do some of these things in conjunction with my classes and student organizations at SHSU,” Clevenger said. “I want students to feel included and let them get to know me and the other faculty.”

Clevenger brings a serious resume of accomplishments with her. She had the opportunity to present her research on the cyber victimization of survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence at the United Nations Women in 2016 and to Congress in 2018. Clevenger is the recipient of the 2019 American Society of Criminology, Division of Victimology, Book of the Year Award, as well as the 2018 American Society of Criminology, Division on Women and Crime Young Scholar Award and the 2017 Feminist Criminology Article of the Year Award.

She has also been recognized for her teaching by Illinois State University with both college and university Faculty Teacher of the Year Awards and the 2016 American Society of Criminology, Division of Victimology, Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award and 2017 American Society of Criminology, Division of Critical Criminology and Social Justice Teacher of the Year Award.

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