Alisa Smith, a practicing attorney with a doctorate in criminology and nearly 20 years of teaching experience, is the new chair of the Department of Legal Studies in the College of Health and Public Affairs.

“I am extraordinarily pleased to announce that Dr. Smith has joined the college’s leadership team,” said college Dean Michael Frumkin. “Her vision, creativity and administrative skills will provide the leadership to build upon the amazing accomplishments of the department under the guidance of its founding chair, Dr. Jim Beckman.”

Smith comes to UCF after serving as a faculty member at The University of Tampa for 12 years and teaching at a college and university in New Jersey. At UT she was a professor of law and justice, and she taught courses in legal research and writing, appellate advocacy, and law and social policy. She was a staunch advocate for student excellence and success, directing the South Atlantic Regional Moot Court Tournament for undergraduates, including undergraduates as members of the Bruce Jacob Criminal Appellate Inn of Court, leading honors initiatives, and advising pre-law student organizations. She also secured grants to support teaching innovations, student travel and student research, such as a recent study of the South Carolina courts funded by the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.

Smith brings 27 years of legal experience, including working as a public defender, to her new role as well. While in Tampa, she was an attorney with the Tenth Judicial Circuit Office of the Public Defender in their appellate division, and she plans to continue serving as a special public defender in criminal appeals. She has bar membership with The Florida Bar, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal and United States Supreme Court.

As a scholar, Smith is the sole author of two books, Criminal Justice, Science and Law and Law, Social Science and the Criminal Courts. She has authored or coauthored a number of peer-reviewed journal articles and law review articles, and she has presented her work at many professional meetings.

Smith earned her Juris Doctor and Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology at The Florida State University and her Bachelor of Arts at Florida Atlantic University.

“It is an exciting time to be joining the department, college and university,” said Smith. “I look forward to working with my energized, innovative and enthusiastic new colleagues, particularly as the department is scheduled to move downtown. I plan to build upon the solid foundation of Jim Beckman’s good work as inaugural chair by working with my colleagues to expand our community partnerships, support faculty and student scholarship, and explore innovative program development.”