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Gary Jensen

Professor and Chair of Sociology Emeritus
Professor of Religious Studies Emeritus; Chair of Political Science Emeritus

Gary Jensen, professor of sociology and of religious studies, arrived at Vanderbilt in 1989.  He led the Department of Sociology at Vanderbilt for 14 years, guiding substantial growth in the number and diversity of the department’s faculty.  For one of those years (2002-03), Gary had the distinction of being chair of both Sociology and Political Science.

Gary is a scholarly omnivore; his work encompasses careful critiques of core theories of deviance and delinquency, empirical research on policies and interventions in crime and delinquency, and even slightly quirky examinations of patterns in haunting and UFO sightings.  He has published nearly 70 articles, essays, and chapters, as well as several books.  Of particular note is Delinquency and Youth Crime, co-authored with Dean Rojek; this widely-used text is now in its 4th edition.  Gary’s nearly constant companion for more than a decade became The Path of the Devil, his 2007 book on early modern witch hunts. 

During his career, Gary improved the lives of many at Vanderbilt.  He created an early service-learning course (“Justice and Corrections”), established a department computer lab for graduate students, served on Faculty Senate and A&S Faculty Council, and taught Introductory Sociology by involving students in hands-on data analysis.  Gary was honored by the Opportunity Development Center for his support of affirmative action, and by the Cuninggim Women’s Center for his contributions to the advancement of women at Vanderbilt.  He received in 2001 the Thomas Jefferson Award for contributions to campus governance, and was named Joe B. Wyatt Distinguished University Professor in 2005.