Karl Besel, Ph.D.

Dean, School of Interdisciplinary Health and Science
Professor of Public Health and Social Work
Joined USJ:
Academic Degrees Ph.D., University of Louisville
MSSW, University of Louisville
BSW, Valparaiso University
Contact Information


Dr. Besel served as the Assistant Dean and Director of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at IU Northwest from 2015-2020. In addition, he served as a Professor of Public Administration and Health Management and Principal Investigator of the Racial Justice Research project at IUN from 2020-2023. Prior to that time Dr. Besel was the Graduate Program Director and Professor of Public Administration and Health Management at IU Kokomo. Dr. Besel has also worked as a research professor and center director at the University of Louisville, as well as an executive director of a court related nonprofit organization.

Over the past three years he has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in the healthcare management and public administration fields, including strategic planning, program evaluation, human resource management, urban policy and structure, as well as nonprofit management and leadership.


Advisory Board Member, Clinton School of Public Service, Center on Community Philanthropy
Site Reviewer, National Association of Public Administration and Public Affairs (NASPAA)
Member of the Urban Affairs Association (UAA)
Member of the Association of Nonprofit and Voluntary Associations (ARNOVA)


Dr. Besel is the author of two books (Passing the Torch: Planning for the Next Generation of Leaders in Public Service, and Back to the Future: New Urbanism and the Rise of Neotraditionalism in Urban Planning), as well as over 20 peer reviewed articles. One of the latest awards Dr. Besel has received for his scholarly work includes the Nonprofit Management & Leadership Journal, “Best of the 2010s.” Award for “Nonprofit Sustainability During Times of Uncertainty,” in 2020. Subsequently, in 2016 and 2014 he was named a Distinguished William J. Clinton Lecturer. Dr. Besel also served as the Visiting Scholar of Community Philanthropy at the Center on Community Philanthropy, Clinton School of Public Service (University of Arkansas), in 2009.
Dr. Besel has received approximately two million dollars in external funding from federal and private grants including the Kellogg Foundation, Federal Bureau of Health Professions, Lilly Foundation, European Union Center for Excellence, and the Center on Philanthropy, IUPUI. His current funded research projects include Racial Justice in the Nonprofit Sector and Traditionally Planned Community Strategies in Germany: Planning for the Next Generation of NGO Leaders.
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