After working and living out of Maine for more than 20 years, Dr. Gail Rioux is returning home to work at Thomas College.
Rioux, who grew up in Freeport, earned her Bachelor’s of Psychology from the University of Southern Maine and left Maine to study for her Doctorate in Criminal Justice at State University of New York in Albany.
Her first academic job was at Kent State University in Ohio and then Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. She then worked at West Virginia State University for 15 years; 14 of which were spent as the Chair of the Criminal Justice department and seven as both Chair and Dean.
Rioux’s husband is retiring so they decided to move back to Maine to be closer to family. But, Rioux was not ready to retire.
“I never thought I’d get a chance to teach in my home state, so I am really happy about that,” she said.
Rioux said she enjoys working in higher education because she likes teaching and interacting with students, and she is fascinated by the field of criminal justice.
Rioux’s area of expertise within the field is incarceration in prisons and jails. For one of her academic research studies, she interviewed female inmates about domestic violence that they suffered and how that domestic violence, from their perspective, was related to their criminal behavior.
“It was, like all of my studies, very educational. The domestic violence that they suffered was pretty unbelievable – from childhood on. And of course we know that a large percentage of women in prison have been victims of domestic violence.”
At Riox’s most recent teaching job at the University of Texas at El Paso, she was given the opportunity to do a research project with the Department of Homeland Security in 2011. The Department wanted to know if a college was to have a Homeland Security degree program and what it should be structured like.
“The University of Texas at El Paso hired me to do a survey and to implement the survey I went with another researcher all around the country from Maine to California and Florida to Washington and we interviewed people who worked for the Department of Homeland Security – customs, border patrol, immigration – and asked them if they thought their education was sufficient for their job, and if they would like to have the opportunity to have a homeland security degree and what would they want in that degree program.”
At Thomas, Rioux will be teaching classes on corrections, criminal law, and juvenile justice.
After working for a commuter school most recently, she is excited to get back on a residential campus.
“It is a different kind of atmosphere and I’m happy to have that again at Thomas,” she said. “I think Thomas has a very good criminal justice program and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”