Robert OrthRobert Orth will serve as the new managing director for the Administration and Leadership Studies Research and Training Center at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The ALS-RTC is an applied, interdisciplinary center at IUP that supports sponsored research, program evaluation, policy analysis, technology transfer, and training for nonprofits and state agencies that serve the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

His appointment fills the vacancy in the position left by the retirement of the center’s long-serving managing director, Sherri Chippo. The managing director oversees the day-to-day operational needs of the center and assists center faculty as they navigate the processes and procedures at both IUP and their respective contracting agencies to successfully execute their contracted work statements in a timely and efficient fashion.

“I am incredibly excited to step into this role and am grateful to IUP for this opportunity,” Orth said.

“The ALS-RTC has a rich history of performing exceptional work, and I am eager to continue that trend by elevating the Center’s profile, enhancing our agency partnerships, driving award growth, and producing high-caliber work project deliverables which advance public policy discussions by informing agency decision making.” 

Orth comes to the position having built a unique research relationship between the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and the ALS-RTC which has brought in more than $6 million in funding, a 540 percent growth over 10 years. The Center supports a total of six faculty members (four full-time and two part-time) to drive its work. 

As project principal investigator for the PCCD work, Orth is responsible for directing the research, analysis, and evaluation at PCCD. He is responsible for providing planning and guidance to the agency’s Commission, advisory committee members, program offices, and other state and local justice agencies on the development of new programs, policies, and strategic plans.

The work of Orth’s team has yielded hundreds of small and large mission-critical research projects that support data-driven administration of justice in Pennsylvania. In recognition of his work, Orth was named a recipient of the IUP Research Institute’s 2023 Sponsored Programs Award for Outstanding Centers and Institutes.

A very recent impactful contribution from Orth at PCCD was his leadership on the development of an updated report on 10-year crime trends in Pennsylvania. 

Along with staff from PCCD’s Office of Research, Evaluation, and Strategic Policy Development, Orth’s team utilized federal grant funding to synthesize trend data from Uniform Crime Report offense, arrest, and victimization data from the Pennsylvania State Police; courts and sentencing data from the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts and Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission; and information on state prisoners, parolees, and probationers from the Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania Board of Parole. In June, this report was delivered by the executive director of PCCD to members of the Pennsylvania Senate in a public hearing on criminal justice trends in Pennsylvania.

“Dr. Orth has been a passionate and energetic team member and has contributed greatly to the growth center and its faculty,” Christian Vaccaro, the Center’s director, said. “It is my hope that the center will see a bright future of continued growth with him in this prominent role on the ALS-RTC leadership team.” 

Orth is also notably spearheading ways to incorporate students into these research and evaluation projects and drive an interest in public service.

In this line, he and ALS-RTC faculty member Lindsay Vaughan have developed the Justice Research Fellowship, now in its second year. This program is intended to recruit exemplary students majoring in the social sciences to participate in “real life,” practical mini-research projects with IUP faculty during winter and the spring 2023 semester at the IUP main campus.

The selected fellows will be immersed in activities of IUP ALS-RTC faculty currently positioned at the PCCD. JRF students undertake a small, supervised research project that aligns with their interests and with those relevant and important to PCCD. Justice Research Fellows are also funded to travel to present their work and attend training and experiential learning opportunities with PCCD in Harrisburg.

Orth received a master’s in public administration with a concentration in public policy analysis from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in philosophy in administration and leadership studies from IUP.