About the Dean

Dean DenBesteDr. Michelle DenBeste, who served in the interim role for two years, was named dean of the College of Social Sciences at Fresno State in October 2017.

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.

She is in the process of implementing a new U.S. Department of Education grant to drive student and teacher success which 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.

Message from the Dean

As Dean of the College of Social Sciences, I can tell you that your interest in our programs is a great choice. Our graduates are found in leadership positions in dozens of careers built on solid education foundations. They are judges, elected officials, planners, agency heads, teachers and administrators, sheriffs, bankers and even a recent secretary of the U.S. Treasury. Our faculty know that the work they do to inspire and educate students is a high calling that they pursue with dedication and enthusiasm. The faculty also engage in research, publishing, consulting, and communication with the media in order to give back to society the benefits of their research. Our commitment is to engage in the application of Social Sciences knowledge for the benefit of our students and the positive transformation of our broader society.

The faculty, staff, and students of the College of Social Sciences are excited and engaged with our world. We'd love to have you join us!

Michelle DenBeste,
Dean, College of Social Sciences


Interim Associate Dean


Dr. Yoshiko Takahashi was appointed interim associate dean of the College of Social Sciences in August 2019. Takahashi holds an M.S. in Criminal Justice and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Prior to joining the Dean’s Office, she taught a variety of courses at Fresno State including victimology, family violence, juvenile delinquency, statistics, and research methods as faculty of the Department of Criminology.

Takahashi has extensive experience in accreditation issues, having served as the Criminology assessment coordinator and the College of Social Sciences assessment coordinator. Recently, she released a report with the Office of Institutional Effectiveness on Hmong American student success and previously wrote a report on Southeast Asian American student success. She has served on a number of community, national, and international boards, including the World Society of Victimology (WSV) and Central California Asian Pacific Women (CCAPW). She is a previous president of Fresno State’s Asian Faculty and Staff Association (AFSA).

As a victimologist, Takahashi has studied crime victimization in Asian communities and crime and victimization in rural areas. Her recent publications include a book with colleague Dr. Chadley James titled Victimology and Victim Assistance: Advocacy, Intervention, and Restoration.