Written by Lucero Benitez, COSS Communications Specialist

Dr. Elizabeth A. Lowham, a public policy scholar with expertise in the areas of leadership and management, analysis and organizational development, is the new dean of the College of Social Sciences at Fresno State. 

“Dr. Elizabeth A. Lowham is an award-winning teacher and public policy scholar with expertise in the areas of research methodology, leadership and management, policy analysis, and environmental policy,” said Dr. Xuanning Fu, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Fresno State. “Over the course of her career, Dr. Lowham developed a reputation for holistic program building, student and faculty support, stakeholder facilitation and data-informed decision making.”

After earning a bachelor’s in geology from Carleton College, and a master’s and a doctorate in political science from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Lowham started as an assistant professor of political science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

From 2007 through 2022 while at Cal Poly, Lowham held various administrative leadership positions, including director of the Master’s of Public Policy program, founding director of the Center for Expressive Technologies, director of the interdisciplinary studies major, director of the Science, Technology and Society Program, interim assistant chair of electrical engineering, and chair of political science. 

Since 2019, Lowham served as the interim dean of graduate education; as well as the administrator in charge for the Division of Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education starting in March 2021. She was appointed dean of the College of Social Sciences in June.

“I’m excited to be part of a college and campus where the students, faculty and staff believe in the transformative power of education for individuals and our communities. As a college, we will continue the critical work to build and to expand communities committed to justice where everyone thrives,” Lowham said.

Lowham has received the Harold D. Lasswell Prize from the Society of Policy Scientists, the Cal Poly Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, as well as college awards for teaching and service. Lowham’s scholarly publications and funded research in public policy focus on collaboration and using information to achieve better policy outcomes. Her research ranges from mental health, cybersecurity, K-12 education, the scholarship of teaching and learning, environmental policy and terrorism.

She looks forward to working with the college’s faculty, staff and students to create communities committed to justice, civic responsibility, diversity and service across the Central Valley and the state of California.

Lowham succeeds Interim Dean Segun Ogunjemiyo, who returns to his role as a faculty member in the Department of Geography and City and Regional Planning.

Q&A with Dr. Lowham

Where are you originally from and how does the weather compare to Fresno?
I was born in Casper, Wyoming – and it is the place I have lived the longest (followed by California, Colorado then Minnesota). Maybe the best way for me to think about comparing climates is that in the winter, the lows in Fresno are the very highest of highs in Casper. In summer, the lows are about the same, but the highs area bit higher (and how much higher depends on the data source and timeframe we’re looking at).

What do you most look forward to at Fresno State?
I look forward to working with a community of students, of educators, of staff, who all believe in the transformative power of education. The knowledge we develop together, the opportunities for learning we co-create – they are avenues for growth and change for us as individuals and for the communities we live in and support. I see COSS as central to this work and am humbled to be a part of how we change the ourselves, our communities, and the world.

What are you most looking forward to living in the Central Valley?
I look forward to learning the communities, stories, and histories of the Central Valley and the people who have made it their home – these narratives are important for how we want to continue to shape the shared communities we are creating together.

What are your plans for the College of Social Sciences?
Plans for is probably not as accurate as plans with! I want to position our college as central to the university and to how we engage with the communities in which we live, work, and co-create knowledge. These are all things we do together. In the short time I have been on campus, I have seen dedication to our students, to our campus, to ourselves, and to our communities that is central to how I think we want to move forward. Ultimately, for me, it is about the “we” in how do we want to plan for and create our future.