New Faculty

Rick Dierenfeldt Headshot

Dr. Rick Dierenfeldt

I am excited to begin my first year at UTC after having spent two amazing years with Penn State. Prior to earning my doctorate, I spent more than 10 years in the field as a police officer and criminal investigator. My research has focused on the intersection of community structure, culture, race, gender, and crime—a broad umbrella that has allowed me to examine topics ranging from gun violence and drug crime to sexual victimization and crime reporting. I am also a strong advocate of student-faculty research collaboration, applied criminology, and community-based service learning projects that build networks of support and trust between marginalized populations, service agencies, and the university. If you have an interest in any of these endeavors, I hope that you will drop by my office or stop me on campus and visit!

Chandra Ward

Dr. Chandra Ward

I am new to Chattanooga and UTC and am thrilled to be a part of such a beautiful city and university.  I am an urban sociologist currently completing my dissertation on public housing relocation. Here, I examine changes in place based ties due to public housing relocation and the impact it has on outcomes of well-being.  I have always been interested in issues such as social inequality, in particular.  Growing up on public assistance and attending failing schools have absolutely shaped my perspectives on life and influenced my scholarship.  In all of my scholarship, I seek to uplift and amplify traditionally marginalized voices and perspectives.  My first book, “Voices from the Margins: An introduction to sociology,” exemplifies this goal. This commitment to the centering of marginalized voices, I believe, is important in having a more holistic understanding of society or at the very least initiating conversations towards this goal.

Here at UTC, I am excited to provide students with access to these perspectives as well as a better understanding of their own community. As an urban sociologist, I am excited and interested in the changes happening in and around Chattanooga and how they impact local residents.  I want to engage students in the discipline of sociology and help them to understand the possibilities it offers.  I am looking forward to working with students, local officials, other experts and community stakeholders in problem solving and helping to make Chattanooga a livable place for everybody.