'Hurst prof earns lifetime achievement award

To those in the criminal justice department at Mercyhurst University, Professor of Criminal Justice Peter Benekos, Ph.D., is very well known.

He has been a professor of criminal justice at Mercyhurst since 1979 and is the recent recipient of the Founder’s Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) in New York City on March 16.

This is a lifetime achievement award and is presented in recognition of service to the academy and significant contributions to criminal justice education and the discipline of criminal justice.

Sarah Hlusko photo: Pete Benekos was recently awarded the Founder's Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.Sarah Hlusko photo: Pete Benekos was recently awarded the Founder’s Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Benekos said he is extremely grateful to have received the award.

“A lot of people deserved this award. It is very gratifying, and I’m very honored to be acknowledged by my peers and colleagues in this way,” he said.

Benekos achieved this award over a long career. Before coming to teach at Mercyhurst, he started as a psychology teacher at a public high school.

He then worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections at Huntingdon for five years as a counselor at the prison pre-release center. His last two years there he worked as an assistant professor at Mercyhurst until finally joining the faculty full time in 1979.

Benekos has had many accomplishments through the years.

Through his work with Mercyhurst University and the ACJS, he has produced many publications singly and with his colleagues and has participated in many committees of the ACJS, including a stint as the chair of the ethics committee.

He is a former president of the Northeastern Association of Criminal Justice Sciences and served as a trustee of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

“It would not have happened without the great amount of support and encouragement I’ve received from Mercyhurst and the criminal justice department, especially Tina Fryling and Dr. Frank Hagan,” Benekos said.

Benekos has presented papers at international conferences and was part of a team that reviewed all Massachusetts Criminal Justice education at the college/university level, as ordered by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. He was also one of the founders of the Mercyhurst Civic Institute, along with Mercyhurst President Tom Gamble, Ph.D., currently sitting as one of its two directors.

Benekos is thankful for his wife, Pat, the executive director of learning information and technology services at Mercyhurst.

“I would also like to acknowledge this was only possible through the encouragement, patience and support of my wife, Pat, through the great amount of time commitment and work,” he said.