Emeritus Professor


  • Role:

  • Position:

    • Emeritus Professor
    • Emeritus Vice President of Engagement
  • Concentration:

    • Rural and Agricultural Policy and Rural Development
  • Department:

    • Sociology
  • Education:

    • Ph.D., Penn State University
  • Curriculum Vitae:


Dr. Lou Swanson retired in September 2019.  Immediately prior to retirement, he served as Vice President of Engagement (2006 – 2019) at Colorado State University and Director of CSU Extension (2010 – 2019).  He is a professional rural sociologist with research foci on US agriculture and rural public policy as well as on the changing structure of US agriculture and rural communities.   Between 1980 and 1997 he was in the Department of Sociology with his research appointment in the Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Kentucky.  In 1997 he became Chair of Sociology at CSU and also served as the Research Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts.  As a VP, he oversaw CSU Extension, CSU Online, Office of Community and Economic Development, and the Colorado Water Center.  The Office of Engagement supported international programs in China, Ethiopia and Kenya.   He received his BA in Political Science at St. Andrews Presbyterian College (NC), a Masters of Technology in International Development at North Carolina State University, and a Ph.D. in Rural Sociology at Pennsylvania State University.  He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia (1972 – 1974), as a Resident Fellow at Resources for the Future (1990), as President of the Rural Sociological Society (1999 – 2000 )and in 2009 was recognized as an Outstanding Alumni in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State University.  He has written numerous journal articles and book chapters and has authored or co-authored six books on agricultural public policy and rural communities in the United States.  Presently, he is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Emeritus Vice President of Engagement at CSU.