Dr. Danny Pirtle Jr. is a UT Martin associate professor of criminal justice, but it was his work experience in public service that has led him to help provide students with mentors to help them find their best futures at the university.
Pirtle began his UT Martin career as a visiting professor in Fall 2019 and is in his fourth year as a full UTM faculty member.
Outside of the classroom, Pirtle serves as an adviser with the Alpha Phi Sigma criminal justice honor society and is a mentor for the “Call Me MiSTER” program and for minority students. He will also be the president of the newly-formed Black Faculty and Staff Affinity group.
“I am really excited about that group coming to campus and providing a resource for minority faculty, staff and students across campus,” he said.
Pirtle said being a mentor – as he is with the Call Me MiSTER program and with minority students – is important to help students grow and learn and seek to learn more.
“It’s critical in the development of students to understand and be able to connect with people who may be able to provide them with some insight to things that they want to do,” he said. “I was just speaking with a potential student, and she indicated that she was interested in forensics. I shared with her that forensics is one of our most popular – if not the most popular – concentrations.”
Pirtle added that during a meeting with someone in the student’s chosen profession is the time to ask for professional guidance in that field and perhaps find a mentor.
“I feel it is part of my responsibility to serve as a mentor,” he said, “and not just for the academic piece but also just in general, helping young men understand what it means to be a man in this society, helping young women understand ways that they can climb the corporate ladder and learning ways to navigate a male-dominated society.”
Before coming to UT Martin, Pirtle worked as a jailer at a juvenile center in Texas. He had a mentor who gave him opportunities to grow into the job. He worked his way up the ladder before he heard of a graduate program in juvenile justice at Prairie View A&M, the first of its kind in the nation.
Pirtle applied and was accepted, and when he completed his master’s degree, the university was building a Ph.D. program in juvenile justice. With encouragement from two professors who were his mentors, he applied and completed it.
“I’ve been fortunate to have practical experience and academic experience, and my career has been a combination of those jobs in administration on the practical side and having teaching positions primarily on the academic side,” he said. “I frequently tell students in class that we are the sum of our experience.”