Dean's Bio

Debra S. Larson, Ph.D., P.E., Dean

Debra S. Larson, Ph.D.

Debra Larson, Ph.D., P.E., joined Cal Poly’s College of Engineering as dean in August 2011. Well known as a preferred provider of practice-ready engineers to industry, the college ranks fifteenth in the nation for number of degrees awarded. Under Larson’s direction, the college has raised $49.1 million in philanthropic gifts, and is successfully growing multidisciplinary initiatives that span the university, including cybersecurity, autonomous flight, big data, advanced manufacturing, CubeSats, human motion biomechanics, liberal arts and engineering studies, and innovation and entrepreneurship. Another focus for Larson is growing the diversity of the student body. This effort is supported by programs such as CP Scholars, Multi-Cultural Engineering and Women in Engineering programs, Women in Software and Hardware, and the EPIC summer camp program.

Before coming to Cal Poly, Larson served as an associate vice provost at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, Ariz., and as associate dean for NAU’s College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences. This position followed an earlier appointment as chair for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Larson holds the academic rank of professor; is a licensed professional engineer (inactive) in the states of Oregon and Arizona; is well-known for her activities in engineering education; and provides national service to ABET, ASEE, and Order of the Engineer. Larson’s academic career began in 1994, after a career as a civil and structural engineer working in manufacturing, product development and sales, and consulting.