By Kenya Godette

Born in Cameroon and educated in both Africa and the United States, Victoria Time鈥檚 scholarship knows no borders.

An ODU professor of sociology and criminal justice, Time has published three books, presented her research on every continent except Antarctica and has taught and conducted research at the University of Nairobi. To add to her achievements, Time is a recipient of the Charles and Elizabeth Burgess Award and the Robert Stern Award for Excellence in Teaching, was honored with an ODU Professorship Distinction and is a Fulbright scholar, to name a few. It鈥檚 no surprise that Time also holds five degrees鈥攖wo of them in criminology and three of them in law.

But behind her impressive array of accomplishments lies a deeply personal motivation: her dad.

鈥淚nitially, I planned on being a judge,鈥 Time said. 鈥淏ut I realized that with just a law degree, I'm missing out on the doctor title, so I had to go for a Ph.D. And, I had to beat my dad. He has four degrees. I had to get five. He was a huge influence on me.鈥

Her father鈥檚 influence has certainly paid off as Time will be the guest of honor at the 2024 Spring Provost鈥檚 Spotlight event from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on April 4 at Yetiv Auditorium in the Batten College of Arts and Letters, with a reception to follow.

The event includes remarks by Austin O. Agho, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and a Q&A with Time and Annette Finley-Croswhite, director of the Center for Faculty Development and professor of history.

Ahead of the Provost鈥檚 Spotlight, Time sat down with ODU News to talk about her life, her research and the best part of being an educator.

As a professor of sociology and criminal justice, what drew you to this field?

As a young girl, I had much admiration for the legal profession, especially the robes and wigs worn by judges. I saw judges as pillars of power and I was determined to be one. While most of my degrees are law degrees, my interest in practicing law waned. I strongly believe that because I come from a family of educators, teaching was a natural order for me.

It never ceases to amaze me the triggers that lead a seemingly normal person to extreme violence, or to a life of crime. Understanding criminal behavior, which is what criminology is, is extraordinarily intriguing. Understanding the criminal phenomenon, reading the philosophy of punishment and then realizing that some persons are incorrigible鈥攚hile others, with just a little positive or at times negative stimuli, turn their lives around鈥攊s fascinating.

How does your personal background affect your work?

I had a good life. I can't run away from that. But my father didn't. He had to trek for miles, barefooted to go to school. He was determined to give us a good life but we still saw suffering around us. In primary school and secondary school, I saw classmates drop out, and they don't drop out because they're not particularly smart. They drop out because they can't afford the school fees or the uniforms. I saw fellow students come to school barefooted, hungry, or with scabies. It made me very grounded. I've been to 45 countries now and I can sleep on the bed or the floor. I can eat from the floor. It doesn't matter to me because I understand and I have seen it done with just leaves placed on the floor. Many of my publications on Africa tap on issues of marginalization of women, poverty, issues with the educational system, governmental graft, among others. So, some of my work is writing about how we can solve this issue of poverty and education because, like my dad, he rose out of poverty because he got educated. I write about poverty and education and how we can fix these problems, particularly in depressed countries.

How do you approach teaching?

I doubt I do things much differently from others. I teach with much preparedness, excitement, passion and I let my life experiences morph into my teaching. I give my students tough love, just like my dad used to do me. Some of them don't appreciate it (at first), but later they do. I make them work for their grades. I tell them, 鈥淵ou may find this hard and you may find me hard to please, but at some point you will appreciate this hard work.鈥 There's absolutely no point in getting an A in a class when you didn鈥檛 work for it. They're not going to get that in my class, they must earn it! I tell my students that we only have a certain amount of work we can cover each semester, so they must go over and above what is expected. That's where you show brilliance. Both of my parents were educators and my dad, who was a professor himself, always taught us that to be the best we couldn't just read what was required鈥攚e had to read everything. That was the motivation behind my first book, "Shakespeare's Criminals: Criminology, Fiction and Drama.鈥

What鈥檚 the most rewarding part of being an educator?

When I get to listen to my students in a courtroom and when I get to call them 鈥渁ttorney.鈥 It鈥檚 just the highlight! When I get to say, 鈥淎ttorney Silvertooth鈥 or 鈥淎ttorney Jennifer Stevens鈥濃攕he's a big-time lawyer in the area. When you see a student excel, it's the most rewarding thing.

Beyond being a professor and researcher, what do you like to do?

I like that question. Traveling is my number one. I love to meet people and it doesn't matter to me that I don't speak their language because there鈥檚 a way that humans communicate, even without speaking. Gardening! If you could see the side of my wall, those flowers over there are from my garden. I like interior decorating and, of course, I'm a fashionista. I love fashion. I like to dance. Oh my god, I'm a party girl! I like to enjoy myself; I like a good time. I might seem like an introvert to my colleagues because they don鈥檛 know that side of me, but to my friends, I鈥檓 the life of the party. I love that.

How do you want to be remembered?

That I was focused and that I enjoyed life. That I enjoyed making people better and even if I never got to be the best, I never, ever faltered. That I was never lazy and that I always tried to do my best. I may not have arrived at the destination that I had chosen for myself, but that I always put in my best efforts and I'd be satisfied with that. I've done well in life and I like to think I'm a very grateful person. I don't take people for granted and I remember kindnesses. If there鈥檚 anything I wish I could have done more of, it鈥檚 to help people. I don't have many resources, so I use my pen and the little I have, and I share it with others.