Colorado State University has named Lou Swanson, longtime sociology professor and associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts, vice provost for outreach and strategic partnerships – a new position created during the campuswide reorganization last fall.
Swanson, a rural sociologist, has spent the majority of his 24-year career focused on two related fields, the sociology of agriculture and rural community studies. He maintains an active research agenda centered on policy issues associated with agriculture and rural community change.
In his new role, Swanson will oversee Cooperative Extension, Continuing Education, the new Office of Economic Development, the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute, the Colorado Institute for Public Policy and the Office of International Programs – all of which are working together addressing the changing needs of agriculture, rural communities and growing urban communities in the state. Swanson starts his new post on Aug. 14.
"Colorado State is committed to enhancing our already strong contributions to the productivity and prosperity of Colorado communities, and the university’s strategic outreach services are critical to addressing the 21st-century challenges facing the state," said Larry Edward Penley, president of Colorado State University. "Lou Swanson’s leadership will ensure a more comprehensive and effective approach to outreach and partnerships throughout the state."
In October, Penley announced a reorganization as a result of aggressive goals set by the university’s new strategic plan. The reorganization and filling of the vice provost for outreach and strategic partnerships position allows the university to strengthen its ability to achieve excellence in the areas of teaching and learning, retention and graduation, admissions and access and outreach and service. Additionally, the reorganization positions the university to assist communities with rural outreach, scientific discovery and public policy research.
Swanson will report to Tony Frank, senior vice president and provost.
"To ensure that we effectively respond to all our constituent needs, and make best use of the knowledge base and technological capabilities of our institution, we have created an enhanced structure for outreach that deploys the strengths of key Colorado State agencies and departments," Frank said. "In making these changes, and especially in having Lou head the division of Outreach and Strategic Partnerships, Colorado State is better positioned to address the changing needs of our constituents."
"I am honored to serve in this important position for Colorado State University and the state of Colorado," said Swanson. "My immediate goals include reinforcing the university’s historic partnerships with agriculture and rural communities while simultaneously engaging new strategic partnerships in rural and urban Colorado. I welcome the responsibility and the opportunities this new position creates to elevate outreach at Colorado State as an exemplar of an engaged 21st century land-grant university."
Swanson began his professional career as an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky’s Department of Sociology and rose to professor before leaving for Colorado State in 1997. He has served as a professor and chairman of the sociology department. He was named interim associate dean in 2005 and named to the position full-time this year. Swanson was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia from 1972-1974.
Swanson’s research has ranged from the transfer of agricultural technologies (no-till systems) to the development of community capacity for social and economic development. Most recently, his research has focused on locality-based policy for sustainable range management and community development, rancher and farm perceptions of cooperatives, and the transition of ranching and rural life in Colorado. Swanson has also been talking with agricultural groups across the country about the transition from a supply-driven domestic food system toward demand-driven global food systems.
Swanson is past president of the Rural Sociological Society and has received the Soil and Water Conservation Society of America President’s Citation for Excellence for his book "Agricultural Policy and the Environment." He has written numerous journal articles and book chapters and has authored or co-authored six books on rural communities in the United States.
From 1994 to 1996, he served as a member of the "Social Infrastructure, Crime, and Public Education" work group of the Sustainable Communities Task Force of the President’s Commission on Sustainable Development.
Swanson obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science at St. Andrews Presbyterian College, his master’s of technology in international development from North Carolina State University and his doctorate in rural sociology from Pennsylvania State University.