Sunday 06 February 2022
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Alan J. Lizotte, Ph.D., professor emeritus emeritus of the University of Albany School of Criminal Justice and resident of Bristol, RI, died suddenly on January 24 while doing what he loved most: teaching. He was 74 years old.
Born in Fall River, MA, Alan credited his French-Canadian roots for his openness and what he jokingly described as “an inherent Catholic guilt.” He spent his childhood in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Colorado. Each place shaped Alan’s life in a lasting way.
Fall River holds memories of a humble beginning and the adventures of a grandfather who smuggled whiskey during Prohibition. In Colorado, Alan first developed a curiosity for firearms which then led to his academic career in the area of criminal justice and gun ownership. More recently, Alan returned to RI with his wife Lisa, where he was treated to views of Bristol Harbor each morning. He adored the Port — so much so that for his last birthday, Alan gave himself new binoculars, just to bring his light, his boats, his vivacity closer.
In the summer of 1966, at the age of 18, Alan joined the United States Navy. Over the next four years, he toured Vietnam on a guided-missile frigate, the USS Toyt, and a tour and a half on land with Inshore Undersea Warfare Group One. At the time of his honorable discharge, Alan had attained the rank of petty officer second class as a radioman. Later, he continued his patriotic service through the Vietnam Veterans Against War.
In 1970 Alan enrolled at Bristol Community College (BCC) under the GI Bill. He often fondly remembered his early education at the BCC and characterized it as a turning point in his life. At the BCC, his experiences as a young veterinarian caught the attention of his English Literature teacher, Helaine Schupack. As other students wrote essays about teenage-like milestones, Alan wrote about his unit capturing a North Vietnamese swimmer. Schupack then helped Alan apply to Brown University, where he was accepted on a full scholarship. Alan received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Brown in 1974, followed by a master of arts (1976) and a doctorate. (1979) from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, also in sociology. In 2018, Alan established a scholarship in Schupack’s honor, to be given annually to “an adult learner over the age of 22” in need of financial support for education and related expenses.
Alan’s professional academic career began in 1978 when he was appointed assistant professor at Emory University, which he left in 1980 to join the faculty of Indiana University and later to Rutgers University. In 1985, Alan was appointed Associate Professor at the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Albany. He spent the next thirty-six years at Albany, serving as Dean of the School of Criminal Justice (2010-2015) and three times as Executive Director of the Michael J. Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center. By the time of his retirement in late 2021, Alan had achieved the rank of Professor Emeritus, the highest honor in the State University of New York system.
Alan’s academic career has indeed been truly distinguished. He was proud to lead, along with his colleagues Marv Krohn and Terry Thornberry, the Rochester Youth Development Study (RYDS). Launched in 1987, RYDS is a groundbreaking project that followed the life course of 1,000 at-risk college students in Rochester, New York. The RYDS project remains active to this day. Alan’s work on the project was recognized in 2003 when he and his co-authors received the American Society of Criminology’s Michael J. Hindelang Outstanding Book Award for Gangs and Delinquency in Developmental Perspective. Additionally, Alan’s expertise in firearms research and his methodological prowess were internationally recognized. In 2009, he received the University of Albany’s President’s Award for Excellence in Research, and in 2014 his career of distinguished contributions to the field was recognized when he was named a Fellow of the American Society. of Criminology.
Alan will be fondly remembered by his wide circle of students and dear colleagues. He acted as chair of forty-one doctorates. committees, served on numerous others, and mentored countless undergraduate students on their honors theses. His mentoring relationships, rooted in his enormous expertise in research methods and statistics and characterized by the respect, empathy and compassion he imparted, often grew into deep and lasting personal bonds. His advocacy for his students often extended far beyond their official degree, and he was deeply proud of their accomplishments. Famously available for conversations on any topic (but especially Hemingway), he gave ideas freely, encouraged students to explore paths they hadn’t considered (or couldn’t imagine), and offered opportunities to excel in the world. It was through the nominations of several of these students that he received various honors for mentorship, including the University of Albany’s Bread and Roses Award for Excellence in Promoting Gender Equality in 2014. He was particularly proud to be recognized for his mentorship of generations of women entering the field of criminology.
Alan’s passing will be deeply felt by family, friends, colleagues and students around the world. He will be missed for his dry wit and entertaining tales of life, love, and the pursuit of scientific rigor. Alan is survived by his beloved wife of 37 years, Lisa Jackson, of Bristol, RI. The family is planning a memorial service for a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in her honor to the Bristol Community College Helaine Schupack Scholarship, or by check payable to Bristol Community College Foundation, 777 Elsbree Street, Fall River, MA 02720 (please indicate on memo line: Helaine Schupack Scholarship Fund).
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