Mahesh Nalla: 2023 Wall of Fame Inductee

December 4, 2023 - JJ Thomas

Dr. Mahesh Nalla is an inductee into the MSU School of Criminal Justice Wall of Fame and a Professor at MSU since 1992.

Dr. Mahesh Nalla grew up in a small, secluded coastal town on the Bay of Bengal in southern India. From an early age, he would listen to the radio where he discovered educational programs broadcast from around the world. His fascination with the program contents opened the world before him. It was these very programs that kindled Dr. Nalla's passion for learning and propelled him towards the pursuit of higher education..
After completing an Undergraduate Degree, Dr. Nalla enrolled in a Master’s Program in Social Work where his path to a future in academia was laid. After completing his Master’s Program, Dr. Nalla joined Andhra University as a faculty member and pursued his PhD in Social Work.

Photo of Dr. Mahesh Nalla, Professor in the School of Criminal JusticeIt was here that Dr. Nalla became acquainted with the field of Criminal Justice. A serendipitous encounter while at the university library, Dr. Nalla found a book on Criminal Justice and his life changed.

Fascinated by the field, Dr. Nalla chose to change the trajectory of his life, leave the field of Social Work, and travel across the Globe to pursue a PhD in Criminal Justice at the State University of New York at Albany. Here, Dr. Nalla would receive both a Masters and Doctorate in Criminal Justice.

As a doctoral student immersed in the study of Criminal Justice, Dr. Nalla not only endured but truly flourished amid the challenges commonly encountered by international students within the demanding confines of a fiercely competitive doctoral program, characterized by scarce funding opportunities. He was engaged in his research, had deep conversations with fellow students and faculty, and pondered consistently contemplating issues related to crime and justice.

Dr. Nalla says, “Coming from a different culture and looking at the problem of crime and justice really opened a lot of doors, both intellectually and professionally.” After completing his Doctoral Studies, Dr. Nalla joined the faculty at Northern Arizona University. After a short stint here, Dr. Nalla joined the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University in 1992.

While at the School of Criminal Justice, Dr. Nalla continued to establish himself as a leader in the field of Criminal Justice. His research, focusing on private policing, security and crime governance, and international criminology, has garnered national and international recognition for its substantial impact on the field.
Dr. Nalla spearheaded initiatives to introduce the world's inaugural Online Master's Program in Criminal Justice, marking both a pioneering endeavor globally and the first online program introduced at Michigan State University. He also served as the School’s Director of Graduate Studies for 17 years, Associate Director, and Interim Director of the School.

Dr. Mahesh Nalla also led the United Nations Firearms Violence Reduction Project. In this role, he worked with representatives from nearly 200 countries and conducted workshops around the globe. Additionally, Dr. Nalla served as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Comparative & Applied Criminal Justice.