Dr. Michelle DenBeste, who served in the interim role for the past two years, has now been named dean of the College of Social Sciences.

DenBeste is a historian who taught history at Fresno State since 2000 until she became interim dean in 2015. Working collaboratively with faculty, staff and students, she spent the past two years enhancing the college culture and expanding new opportunities.  

During DenBeste’s tenure as interim dean, the college launched a new geography and city and regional planning program, a more robust American Indian studies program, an Institute for Leadership and Public Policy and revived the Fresno State Gospel Choir.

“Dr. DenBeste is praised by the faculty and staff of the College of Social Sciences for her transparency, collegiality and collaborative leadership,” Fresno State Provost Lynnette Zelezny said. “She’s a strong leader who will build a vibrant vision with the faculty, staff and students of the college to leverage its pride points: high-profile research and scholarship, community partnerships, nationally recognized social justice programs, and engaged student success.”

During her first month as interim dean, DenBeste supported an Associated Students, Inc. representative’s plan to form a new student leadership council for the college. The council is providing a platform for students to get involved and demonstrate leadership.

 “I am excited about leading this dynamic college at Fresno State into a new era,” DenBeste said. “I look forward to talking with College of Social Sciences students, faculty and staff about all the ways in which the college can continue to thrive and grow.”

She is in the process of implementing a new U.S. Department of Education grant to drive student and teacher success. It will educate 50 teachers and 100 students each year on issues in American history and civics in connection with exploring state and national parks.

DenBeste was elected chair of the history department from 2004 to 2009 and 2013 to 2015. During that time, she developed partnerships with both the Clovis and Fresno unified school districts, helping to write and implement a series of Teaching American History Grants.

Her community service includes involvement in the Central Valley Cycling Association and serving as commentator on films for Fresno Filmworks and CineCulture.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian and East European studies from University of Washington in 1989 and her master’s and Ph.D. in history from Southern Illinois University in 1993 and 1997.

“The College of Social Sciences Dean’s Office Staff is very excited for the appointment of Dean DenBeste,” said Angelica Lopez, Administrative Support Coordinator for the Office of the Dean. “I am happy that she continues to be our boss and our leader.”