Thomas Vander Ven arrived at Ohio University after years of living in different areas of the country. He earned his B.A. in political science from Indiana University in 1988 and then moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a background investigator for the federal government. In 1994, Vander Ven earned his M.A. in sociology from George Mason University in Virginia. He earned his Ph.D. in 1998 from the University of Cincinnati. After finishing at UC, Vander Ven worked as an assistant professor at Hofstra University in New York.
When he saw a job opening at OU for an assistant professor in the department of sociology and anthropology in 2001, Vander Ven applied for the position. "(My family and I) wanted to be in a college town," he said. "We liked the idea of being in the Midwest."
In addition to teaching and advising, Vander Ven has other responsibilities at OU. He is very involved with students in the Honors Tutorial College and teaches several tutorials a year. Currently, Vander Ven is working with an HTC student on a research project that studies university alcohol culture. Vander Ven is also a member of the Read/Johnson Scholars Complex hall council, where he helps develop programs and research presentations for residents.
Vander Ven, who specializes in delinquency and the social control of youth, linkages between work, family and crime, and criminological theory, said he has always been interested in crime. "I think sociology is the best lens through which to see crime," he said. "The best way to understand the causes and consequences (of crime) is to understand the breakdowns in social institutions."
His research in maternal employment and juvenile delinquency challenges the popular belief that youth are more likely to be delinquent if their mothers work outside the home, but other factors, such as poverty and inequality, contribute more to delinquency.
Vander Ven said that while he enjoys his research, he also likes to teach. "I like to have an even balance between teaching and researching," he said.
In his work as an advisor, he feels an obligation to provide students with the guidance that he did not receive himself. "As an undergrad, I was very confused and lacked direction," Vander Ven said. Vander Ven works to make sure his advisees do not have the same problems he did.
Through these efforts and his work with HTC and Bachelor of Specialized Studies students across campus, Thomas Vander Ven contributes greatly to OU and exemplifies what it means to be a superior advisor.