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Visiting Scholar Spotlight

Claire M RenzettiClaire M. Renzetti, PhD 
By Mackenzie Freeman and Danielle Stoneberg

After receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Delaware, Dr. Claire Renzetti joined the faculty at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, where she remained for 26 years before joining the University of Dayton as a tenured professor. She would remain at the University of Dayton for six years before her current position as the endowed chair in the Center for Research on Violence Against Women and a tenured professor of the Sociology department at the University of Kentucky. Since she was young, Renzetti was concerned with social justice issues and became particularly interested in feminism and the women’s movement in college. In this culmination of experiences and taking Introduction to Criminology with Dr. Frank Scarpitti, she began studying gender and crime. She left Dr. Frank Scarpitti’s course with more than just a passion for violence against women, particularly socially and economically marginalized women, but also a lifelong friendship and mentorship for which she is very grateful.

Dr. Renzetti is currently juggling many projects. She and her colleague, Diane Follingstad, were funded by the Office on Violence Against Women (US Department of Justice) to evaluate a therapeutic horticulture program at GreenHouse17, a battered women’s shelter serving 17 Kentucky counties. This project is nearing completion. At the University of Kentucky, she is on a research team to study students’ perceptions of justice in response to campus sexual assault. Dr. Renzetti is delighted to be working with her fellow UK Sociology faculty member, Ed Morris, on the 7th edition of Women, Men, and Society, and Carrie Buist on the 2nd edition of Feminist Criminology. She is the editor of the journal Violence Against Women, which is currently published 16 times a year, and three book series – the Gender and Justice series for the University of California Press, the Interpersonal Violence series with Jeff Edleson for Oxford University Press, and the Family and Gender-Based Violence series for Cognella.

The resilience of the women she encounters in her work despite their horrific victimization and the commitment of her fantastic colleagues is what keeps her driven. Renzetti considers her affiliation with the Center a great honor and pleasure and hopes there will be more presentations, collaboration, and mentorship opportunities. Renzetti says the latter is vital because it can be difficult to navigate grad school and the academic workplace. She enjoys assisting those early in their careers as they pursue research and publishing, write their cv and enter the job market, and deal with the tenure process. When asked what advice she would give to students, Renzetti said she would, “encourage students, undergrad and grad, to not let self-doubt or the skepticism of others squelch your dreams and aspirations. Dream big and work hard!”