Clemson names prolific criminal justice scholar chair of sociology and anthropology
CLEMSON — David Eitle has been named chair of the Clemson University department of sociology and anthropology in the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences. Eitle has served as head of the Montana State University sociology and anthropology department since 2012, so he brings years of experience leading a similar, multidisciplinary department. He will begin at Clemson July 1.
Eitle said he was attracted to the position for a variety of reasons. He said the university’s reputation for excellent undergraduate education coupled with its recent Carnegie classification as a top-tier research university were certainly selling points. Eitle said that after years of building a “strong nucleus” of young, talented faculty at MSU, the timing was right to move.
“At this point in my career, I was looking for the opportunity to take on new challenges, but I was very selective about where I applied,” Eitle said. “Every indication is that this is a time of change and vibrancy at Clemson, and I am invigorated and energized to know that I will be a part of it.”
Eitle is excited to join a research-focused faculty in the midst of transitioning to a new college. His general goals moving forward include increasing the department’s research portfolio, growing its graduate programs and exploring synergistic activities in research and teaching. He also wants to manage the expected growth of the department’s new criminal justice major, which he had specific experience with at MSU.
However, Eitle doesn’t expect to apply a cookie-cutter strategy in his approach to the department. He has already communicated to the department and leadership that he hopes to gather as much information as possible when he arrives in order to formulate a plan worthy of the department.
“A lack of that information limits my ability to execute a worthy strategic plan,” Eitle said. “As an outside chair, I need to first gain the context, history and understanding of how the university as an organization operates. Any move I make should be an informed one.”
According to Brett Wright, dean of the college, the position attracted many candidates, but Eitle’s experience leading and building a department combined with his prolific research separated him from the pack. Wright said the departmental search committee that selected Eitle views him as the ideal choice to lead the department going forward after an exciting period of departmental reorganization.
“I think will immediately set the tone for the department going forward,” Wright said. “His passion for student learning, his emphasis on research and his proven abilities as a leader are just what the department needs.”
Eitle began serving as associate professor in the Montana State University sociology and anthropology department in 2006 before transitioning to department head in 2012. He previously served as assistant professor in the Florida International University Criminal Justice Program, and also served as visiting assistant professor in the University of North Florida department of sociology, anthropology and criminal justice.
Eitle received his Ph.D. in sociology from Indiana University Bloomington in Bloomington, Indiana. He received a master’s degree in sociology and a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. His research interests lie in exploring how race and racial stratification are associated both with crime and the criminal justice response to crime. In 2010, the Journal of Criminal Justice Education identified Eitle as one of the most prolific scholars across the prior decade in prestigious criminal justice and criminology journals.
Eitle and collaborators have successfully obtained external funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to support research endeavors. He was also the first social scientist at Montana State University to receive a National Institutes of Health grant.