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Criminal justice professor selected for 2003 Darnall Award

L. Thomas Winfree Jr., a professor of criminal justice at New Mexico State University, has been selected to receive the 2003 Dennis W. Darnall Faculty Achievement Award.

L. Thomas Winfree Jr., a professor of criminal justice at New Mexico State University, has been selected to receive the 2003 Dennis W. Darnall Faculty Achievement Award.(New Mexico State University photo by Greg Mays)

The award ceremony is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 24, in the Corbett Center Dona Ana Room. The award, named in honor of a former associate dean, is presented each year to a faculty member for achievements in teaching and research and for service to the community and the university.

"This is like winning the MVP award, because it reflects that (teaching, research and service) are all important in this job," Winfree said. "This award also means more because I knew Dennis Darnall and his loss saddened me."

Winfree, whose research and community work focuses on youth gangs, just completed a semester sabbatical leave during which he worked with the Faculty of Law at the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium. He also was a guest lecturer on the American criminal justice system and world events from a criminal justice context.

"He is known as a demanding instructor who expects students to perform at the top of their ability. However, he also is willing to help them to be equipped to perform at that level," said G. Larry Mays, the professor of criminal justice who nominated Winfree for the award.

Mays said Winfree, who in 1987 was selected as the first graduate coordinator for the Master of Criminal Justice degree program, has contributed "immeasurably to the success and national reputation of the graduate program, and because of his activity the program is recognized among the best master's programs in the United States."

Winfree has published articles in a wide range of scholarly journals and has co-authored many articles with former graduate students and junior colleagues. He has been active in directing the research activities of graduate students who have been interested in studying the formation and persistence of youth gangs in southern New Mexico. As a result of these efforts he was influential in having Las Cruces selected as one of the national test sites for evaluation of the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program.

He also has received a National Institute of Justice grant to evaluate a metropolitan DWI Drug Court.

Winfree served for nine years as academic department head and guided the department during a key period of growth when resources were limited, Mays said. He worked with several departments on campus in the development of the security technology minor and an interdisciplinary alcohol and drug counseling certification program.

Winfree received his bachelor's degree from the University of Richmond, his master's degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and his doctoral degree from the University of Montana, all in sociology.

Darnall, an award-winning teacher and researcher, was head of New Mexico State's chemistry and biochemistry department, associate dean and director of the Research Center of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the founder of Bio Recovery, a company based on his research.

In memory of Darnall's broad interests and service, family and friends created the Darnall Faculty Achievement Award to recognize the broad-based achievements and service of other dedicated university faculty.