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Sandra O'Neil Chair & Professor, Sociology and Criminal Justice
Criminal Justice and Sociology

Sandra O'Neil

Contact Sandra O'Neil

Ph.D., Sociology, Boston College
M.A., Sociology, Boston College
B.S., Business Management, Georgetown University

As Chair and Professor, with over a decade of administrative experience, Dr. O’Neil is comfortable with various facets of effective department and program leadership.  Dr. O'Neil has served in leadership roles across the campus on both institutional and faculty committees including undergraduate curriculum, general education, strategic planning, diversity, budget, and institutional research committees and on state-wide assessment and higher education committees.

During her years leading the department, five new minors including three new interdisciplinary minors, and one new interdisciplinary major have been introduced.  Minors added include Social Work, Law and Society, Cybercrime, Critical Inequalities Studies, and White-Collar Crime and with the inspiration and collaboration of a student, a new interdisciplinary major in Transformative Justice, launched fall of 2022.  This new major seeks to prepare students in advocacy and social service careers that exist outside of the traditional criminal legal system.  It combines coursework in Sociology, Social Work, Criminal Justice, and Psychology.

Dr. O’Neil’s recent research and teaching focuses on climate justice, studying specifically the unjust burden of climate crisis on the most vulnerable and least culpable populations.  This interest stemmed from her previous research on environmental justice, the unjust burden of hazardous waste, and in particular Superfund sites, on poor communities and communities of color.  Dr. O’Neil has worked with communities to understand toxics and health, as well as renewable development projects.  Dr. O’Neil has experience in both quantitative and qualitative methods.  Her past quantitative research included the use of advanced statistical modeling, using census and environmental data, event history analysis, while her qualitative research projects have involved community action around health and toxics as well as renewable development projects. As part of her graduate work, Dr. O’Neil passed proficiency exams in social movements, environmental sociology, and research methods.  She teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate level in Sociology and Criminal Justice.  Areas of academic interest include climate justice, environmental justice and environmental law, methods in social research and data analysis.

In addition to her research and teaching focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, she has also spent a significant amount of time serving diversity and equity initiatives across the college; first, as a member of the Women’s and Gender Studies committee, then as Coordinator of this program as well serving on the Institutional Diversity Committee and Diversity Task Force.

Over the last five years, Dr. O’Neil has presented on curriculum and program assessment at national conferences in both the Sociology and Criminal Justice fields.  Her work was recently recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, and she was an invited presenter at the annual statewide conference on assessment in higher education.

Dr. O’Neil is also serving on the Department of Higher Education committee on Prior Learning Credits as part of the revisions of the Quinn Bill, Police Career Incentive Pay Program.  This accreditation has been important in setting and maintaining standards for programs offering degrees to students entering the law enforcement professions.