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About the Dean

Dr. 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 of the College of Social Sciences


Meet the Associate Dean

Dr. mucat

Dr. Muscat was appointed Associate Dean of the College as of June 1, 2018.

She was the Interim Associate Dean since May 2015. Previously, she served as the Criminology Department Chair from 2012 to 2015.

Dr. Muscat served as a professor in different Departments at Fresno State including the Department of Criminology, Victimology emphasis, and the Department of Political Science, Master’s of Public Administration.

Dr. Muscat’s accomplishments include several academic and student success initiatives. She is responsible for increasing the number of units students take each semester through the Course Access Initiative, the Graduation Rate Initiative, and Four Year Guarantee Program pertaining to the College of Social Sciences – all with the goal of increasing retention and timely graduation. Dr. Muscat has also worked collaboratively with various entities on-campus in the early development of the fully online degree completion program for the B.A. in Liberal Arts.

In addition, Dr. Muscat led the development and implementation of the College of Social Sciences Advising Center and works closely with advising staff to provide an array of advising services including extended hours and COSS Linked a peer mentor program for those with a major or minor within the College. For the past 10 years, she served as a co-faculty leader for the Criminology study abroad program and she also works with faculty within the College of Social Sciences and across the University to develop faculty-led study abroad programs.

As a publisher, Dr. Muscat’s themes have included victimology, victim services, curriculum development, coalition building, underserved victim populations, and program/ policy evaluation.

Dr. Muscat is a member of two national organizations Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Moving the Needle of Women in Leadership Positions in Higher Education. She is also a Board Member for the American Council on Education NorCal Women’s Network, and serves as an Advisory Board Member of the Student Success Network in the California State University through EdInsights.

“As Associate Dean for the College of Social Sciences, I intend to continue my efforts as a forward-thinking leader in my approaches to program development,” Dr. Muscat said. “I am prepared to support and lead the College toward the next level of excellence in education, student success, and improved retention and graduation rates, as well as supporting faculty and staff excellence.”