Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice


william nardini, ph.d.



Our founder, our mentor, our colleague, our friend has passed away. Bill Nardini lived a life of service to the cause of justice both as a practitioner and as a teacher. He was proud of his Italian heritage and even prouder to be an American, born and raised in Chicago. He was educated in Iowa where he was also a championship collegiate wrestler. He ultimately earned his Ph.D. in Sociology, Criminology and Law (since we did not have “criminal justice” in those days) at the University of Iowa. He interrupted his education for a while to serve as a young Army sergeant in combat in Korea where he was awarded the Purple Heart. He later served as an Army officer in the military police active reserve. For the rest of his life he never stopped defending America.

His professional career led him to public service in corrections. He served as warden of several large institutions (including the Women’s Prison in Washington, D.C.), and he was the Commissioner of Corrections for the State of Delaware. He made the transition to his full-time academic career by joining the faculty at ISU in the Department of Sociology, Criminology and Social Work in 1968. In academic year 1972-73, Bill became the founder and first chairperson of the newly established Department of Criminology. Once the department was on a sound footing, Bill stepped down and served the remainder of his tenure as a professor and as a mentor to his junior colleagues. He retired in 1992 (but continued to teach for us) and was our first Professor Emeritus. Throughout his career at ISU, Bill continued to serve Indiana in many capacities, including several terms as chair of the Indiana Board of Correction under a number of different governors.

It is hard to believe Bill is gone. I have a feeling, however, that he will continue to take an active interest in our department in a more remote advisory capacity. We will remember that he is watching us to be sure we work hard, are honest, and always serve our students well. Bill, thank you for your life and your legacy. We will take good care of your department.

David T. Skelton


Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Dr. William Nardini was my dear friend and colleague for 40 years and I am very saddened by his passing. He was very instrumental in changing the direction of my career, and I am convinced that I would not have known the level of success that I attained in life if I had not met him. We first met in 1968 shortly after he resigned as commissioner of corrections in Delaware to accept the position of chairman of the sociology department (which at the time housed all of the criminology courses) at Indiana State University and I accepted a position as Director of Classification and Treatment with the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC). We could not have been more unalike. I had taken the position with the Indiana Department of Correction with no background in the field, my only qualification being that I had completed all requirements for a doctorate except the dissertation which I was trying to finish. He, on the other hand, was already well established in the field. He had previously served as Associate Warden of the Iowa State Penitentiary, Chief of Research with the District of Columbia Department of Correction, and Commissioner of the Delaware Department of Corrections, as well as having university teaching experience at American University, University of Delaware, and South Dakota State College.

Likely, because of his great interest in corrections he was a frequent visitor to the central office of the IDOC where I worked. Most of his time in the central office was spent behind closed doors with the commissioner where they no doubt discussed current problems and future plans. Before he left the central office, however, he always found time to stop by my office for a visit and seemed genuinely interested in what was happening in my area. At some point, he discovered that I was teaching in the evening division at Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and he promptly hired me to teach evening criminology courses for his department. I had never been on the ISU campus prior to this opportunity and I have to admit that I fell in love with the university and the city of Terre Haute.

When Bill accepted the position at ISU, it was with the stipulation that he could work towards separating out the criminology courses and creating a criminology department. In 1972, after a great deal of hard work and involvement in much campus politics on his part, the new department became a reality and Bill and three faculty members switched over to the new Department of Criminology with Bill becoming its first chairman. At the time, I was a top administrator in the IDOC and the commissioner was talking to me about becoming the superintendent of one of the state’s correctional institutions, so it appeared that I was on a fast track to success with the department. Shortly after the new department was created, Bill received permission to hire two additional faculty members and he surprised me by asking me to apply for one of the positions. Since this was to be a national search and I assumed there would be many applicants with much more experience than I had, I believed it was a waste of time but due to my friendship with Bill, I applied for the position. Imagine my surprise when I was selected for the position. After a bit of soul searching I accepted the position largely due to the relationship I had developed with Bill and his faculty. I joined the faculty in July of 1973 and the second hire, Edmund Grosskopf, joined us in August 1973.

It was soon apparent that I had made the right decision because I enjoyed working in the department even more than I had enjoyed working in the IDOC. Over the next several years I worked hard trying to earn tenure and promotion, but early in 1976, well before I had time to achieve either of these, Bill decided that he wanted to step down as chairman and return to the classroom and he recommended to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences that I be named acting chairman while the department conducted a national search for his replacement. It is really unusual for an untenured assistant professor to be offered such an honor, but I was named the acting chair. As the national search was just getting started, Bill suggested that I apply for the position. All of my other friends suggested that it was not a very good career move for an untenured assistant professor to do, but I ignored their well-intentioned advice and applied anyway. To my total surprise, I was selected and hired as the new chair. I am not certain what Bill saw in me, because in spite of my initial misgivings I served as chair for 29 years.

From 1976 until his early retirement in 1990 Bill was the consummate senior faculty member, teaching, researching and mentoring the younger faculty members. Much of my early success as chairperson no doubt resulted from his leadership among the faculty of the department and his continuing support of my efforts. While I am certain there must have been times when he felt that I should be taking the department in a different direction, to his credit he never offered any unsolicited advice or did or said anything that might undercut my position. I am certain that he realized that as the former chairman of the department it was probably impossible for him to just speak as a faculty member in the department, so he shared many of his thoughts with me in the privacy of my office. And, I assure you that I was smart enough to take advantage of his insights and suggestions.

Fortunately, for me and the department, he continued to teach for us in his new role as Professor Emeritus all the way up to my own retirement in June of 2006. My personal observations led me to conclude that coming to the department to teach classes and to talk to the other faculty members became even more precious to him as the years slipped by. I am convinced that right up to the time that he passed away, he was looking forward to his next visit to the department or his next assignment in the classroom. I doubt that I am the only faculty member who will miss seeing him walking down the hallway or hearing him call a greeting as he passes my doorway, and I am sure that the same goes for our staff members. For 40 years he was a familiar fixture in the department and it is difficult for many of us to think of the department without thinking of him.

Jeff Schrink, Professor Emeritus

In Memory of Bill Nardini:

It is with great sadness that I say farewell to my friend and colleague, Bill Nardini. Our association covers over 35 years with fond memories of working to develop the Criminology Department to where it is today. Successes and failures abounded over the years but Bill always continued on with determination and always a vision to the future in his approach to every challenge. We shared a great deal, even health problems that come with age, but he was always supportive and understanding in my time of need. In my mind there will be always pleasant thoughts of our friendship and respect for his leadership through the early years of the Department at Indiana State University. His family, friends, and colleagues will miss him as I surely will.

Edmund Grosskopf

It was with deep sadness that I learned of Dr. Nardini's passing today. I was one of his ISU Criminology students from 1976-1980. His intellect and commanding presence, as well as his sharp sense of humor, had a profound impact on my formal education, and later, my career growth. As my career progressed through the Houston, Texas Police Department, and then the FBI, we kept in periodic touch, including a few occasions when I visited the campus and spoke to Criminology students. After I became an FBI executive and appeared in media reports and public events, he publicly supported me. When I was named a distinguished ISU alumni in 2004, he shared in my pride. When I received a Presidential Rank Award in 2006, he seemed as proud as I was when the FBI Director and Attorney General shook my hand. I'm glad a few years ago I was able to tell former FBI Director Louis Freeh about Dr. Nardini's commitment to the cause of American justice, and that a copy of Mr. Freeh's book, signed with an inscription to him thanking him for his dedication to the country, made it safely to the Nardini's mailbox in Terre Haute. Most of all, I'm glad that last October, when I visited campus for the 50th anniversary of the Distinguished Alumni Awards, I was able to spend some time with him. God bless the Nardini family and the ISU community as we bid our dear friend, mentor and colleague goodbye.

Robert E. Casey, Jr.

Class of 1980

Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Dallas, Texas

Bill and Mary Lois invited Debbie, Deanna, and I to their home for dinner shortly after we moved to Terre Haute in January of 1986. They were wonderful hosts and made us feel very welcome to the community and ISU. Over the years, Bill was a critical force in maintaining the high quality educational standards that our department is known for. He provided guidance and a sense of departmental history to new faculty members, and never waivered in his dedication to excellence. He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered.

Bob Huckabee, Ph.D. 

I just read about Dr. Nardini's death. I had him for CRIM498 back in Spring '06. Although I am a distance ed. student, you still have favorite professors. Dr. Nardini was one of mine ...

Michael W. Scott

Yesterday I learned of the passing of Dr. Nardini and am saddened to learn of this great loss. I was Dr. Nardini's graduate assistant 1973-1974 in the second year of the newly established Criminology Department at ISU. He was a remarkable man from whom I learned much. During many long discussions with him in Reeve Hall, I learned a lot about Criminology, wrestling, competition and fairness and dealing with adversity in life. He was exceptionally learned and wise in all of these. He was very proud of his conceived Department at Indiana State and the careers of his students. Many of his graduates went on to exemplary careers in federal, state and local law enforcement and corrections. We owe Dr. William Nardini much.

Rest in Peace, Sir.

Patrick McKenna, Jr.

M. S. Criminology-1974