A Tribute to Dr. James Opolot

By Onwudiwe, Ihekwoaba Declan | African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS, April 2017 | Go to article overview

A Tribute to Dr. James Opolot


Onwudiwe, Ihekwoaba Declan, African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS


The assignment to pen a tribute about a notable and worthy colleague in less than a twenty-four hour notice may seem to be difficult, but not when commissioned to honor a colleague, who was a friend, scholar, mentor, and above all, collegial and an excellent human being. A man of high repute as Dr. James Opolot was, had many positive attributes and accomplishments. Unfortunately, as the Igbo adage reminds us, "death is a debt that we all must pay." In this case, we did not anticipate that immediately after his commendable retirement from Texas Southern University (TSU) that Dr. Opolot will leave us so soon on March 10. 2017. His death was a shock and very sad news to those who knew him and adored him. He was an honest man, a gentleman, and a courageous man, who was for justice for all in academia.

He was known for his unrelenting emphasis on research, working everyday reading and researching the literature and new books in the discipline. He often, at every chance possible, inculcated to his younger folks about the need to publish especially in the summer academic sessions. I was intrigued by the comportment in which he read the Newspapers in virtually on salient issues relating to Africa and Africans in the Diaspora. His focus on security and policing matters in Africa may have motivated him to become one of the pioneers of African Criminology and Justice Association (ACJA) for which he also served as its founding President. Dr. Opolot attended almost all the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) and American Society of Criminology (ASC) conferences since I have known him at TSU. He always encouraged his colleagues to submit abstracts and attend conferences, and he also fought for funding in the Department of Administration of Justice (DAJ) at TSU.

Prior to his retirement and sudden death, Dr. Opolot was Professor and Graduate Faculty of Administration of Justice in the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at TSU. He earned his undergraduate and Master of Arts degrees from Southern Illinois University in Applied Criminology and Administration of Justice. Subsequently, he received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the same institution. Throughout his academic work, he exemplified distinctions in teaching, service, and scholarship. He was the founder of the Administration of Justice Club and served as its Faculty Advisor for many years. Additionally, he served on many dissertation committees, and he was a regular member of the TSU Faculty Senate, where he also served as Secretary for many years. It must be noted that Dr. Opolot was a pioneering member of the ASC International Committee. …

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