The UNLV Department of Sociology combines innovative research with teaching and community service to address questions of social change, diversity, social justice, and sustainability in urban environments.
We are very sad to announce that Dr. Andrew Spivak, Associate Professor of Sociology, passed away Monday, January 25, 2021 due to complications from a rare liver disease. Andrew was a valued colleague and friend to many across the college and university. An award-winning teacher and crime and delinquency scholar, he played vital roles in Sociology as a mentor to many students and a supportive colleague in Sociology, the College of Liberal Arts, and around the university.
Andrew came to UNLV in 2008 from Norman, Oklahoma after receiving his Ph.D. in Sociology from University of Oklahoma. He worked for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections from 1997 to 2008, beginning as a correctional officer and later serving as a prison case manager and research analyst. He brought that on-the-ground experience in crime and corrections to his work as a researcher and teacher at UNLV. His students lauded his mentorship as sharply analytical and deeply informed by both his disciplinary knowledge in criminology and practical work experiences in the field that really set him apart.
Andrew deeply valued his students and worked tirelessly for their success. His excellence is reflected in the trove of teaching awards he received over the years, including: the 2010 College of Liberal Arts William Morris Award for Excellence in Teaching, the 2014 Alex G. and Faye Spanos Distinguished Teaching Award, the 2015 UNLV Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award, and the 2016 Nevada Regents Teaching Award. Most importantly, his students recall him as “a positive, and unwaveringly supportive mentor, advisor, and leader,” who “always made time” for students “no matter how busy he was.” He taught undergraduate and graduate courses in criminology, penology, research methods, statistics, and demography, and supervised an internship program in cooperation with the Nevada Department of Corrections.
Dr. Spivak’s research, twice funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, addressed wide-ranging topics including prison inmate demographics and recidivism, neighborhood policing, juvenile prostitution, juvenile justice processing, violent behavior, tobacco regulation compliance, sexual commerce and residential segregation. He has published two books and numerous articles, chapters, and reports. He also used his research to shape public understandings about crime, population, and inequality through interviews with local, national and international print and broadcast media.
Dr. Spivak is survived by his partner Rela and his young son Ian.