|President Ross Receives Top Award from American Criminology Society
November 30, 2007
Contact: Bill Giduz
Davidson College President Thomas W. Ross has received the President’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Justice from the American Criminology Society. Given annually, the award was presented at the ACS’s annual meeting in Atlanta.
President Ross was cited for his work in sentencing reform.
Ross became Davidson College’s 17th president in August after three decades of leadership and public service in North Carolina. He graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina School of Law, and taught at the university’s School of Government. In 1984, North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt appointed Ross as a Superior Court Judge—at the time, the youngest in the state. He held the position for 17 years.
In his work adjudicating felony cases, Ross became familiar with a state justice system that suffered shortcomings from uneven sentencing and a burgeoning prison population. In 1990, the N.C. Chief Justice appointed him to chair a new Sentencing and Policy Advisory Committee, comprising a 23-member panel of judges, lawyers, legislators, citizens and law enforcement officers. For three years, the panel worked to create a structured sentencing system that was eventually adopted by the legislature and became a model for similar programs nationwide.
Over time, this system saved the state hundreds of millions of dollars by prioritizing the use of prison resources without increasing risk to public safety. In accepting the ACS award, Ross thanked the many people who helped him institute those reforms. “The successes are the result of a lot of people who worked hard, took risks, and put good public policy ahead of politics,” he said. “It was a great Sentencing Commission staff, it was courageous judges, district attorneys, lawyers, correctional officials and others in the system, it was our then Governor and it was certain key, dedicated members of our General Assembly. These are the folks that deserve awards and honors for the work in North Carolina, not any one person.”
In 2000, Ross received the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence from the National Center for State Courts, which is awarded to one state court judge in the nation annually. Chief Justice Rehnquist, now deceased, presented the award personally to Ross in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court.
In 1999, after chairing the Sentencing Commission, Ross was appointed by North Carolina Chief Justice Burley Mitchell director of the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts. Soon after, the trustees of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation invited him to become the foundation’s executive director. His seven years at the foundation involved him in statewide issues and politics, advocating for legislative reform and creating coalitions of non-profit agencies to increase their influence in public affairs.
The American Criminology Society’s President’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Justice was established in 2001. Previous recipients include Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, who were honored for their work exposing wrongful convictions, and Harry Woolf, former Lord Chief Justice of England.
The American Society of Criminology is an international organization embracing scholarly, scientific and professional knowledge concerning the etiology, prevention, control and treatment of crime and delinquency. This includes the measurement and detection of crime, a review of legislation and the practice of law, as well as an examination of the law enforcement, judicial, and correctional systems.
The society works to encourage interdisciplinary exchange among those engaged in research, teaching and practice in order to foster criminological scholarship. It also serves as a forum for the dissemination of criminological knowledge. Members include students, practitioners and academicians from the many fields of criminal justice and criminology.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country.
# # #
Posted By: Bill Giduz