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Ernest L. Cowles

Dr. Ernest Cowles joined the Institute for Social Research in the fall of 2004 taking over as its Director after Carole Barnes, the Institute’s founding Director stepped down. He also holds an appointment as a Professor in the Sociology Department. Prior to coming to the Institute, Ernest headed the Institute of Legal and Policy Studies at the University of Illinois, Springfield and also served as the Interim Executive Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Center for Government Studies.


Trained as a Criminologist, he has held a variety of academic, research and administrative positions and has achieved recognition at the national and international levels. In addition to his academic background, Ernest served as a Deputy Director of the Missouri Department of Corrections (and Human Resources), and in his early career worked in Florida as both a Probation and Parole Officer and as a Prison Psychologist. He has served as a consultant to a number of federal, state and local agencies and organizations on prison issues, offender treatment, substance abuse/drug enforcement, information systems, human services delivery and capacity building projects. In addition to his long-term interests in offender rehabilitation and policy dealing with drug enforcement, substance abuse treatment and imprisonment, he is currently involved in research on broader issues including social services provided to the elderly and disabled, mental health programs, and minority health care disparities.


Ernest has served as the author or co-author of more than 45 publications and has directed or served in a senior administrative capacity on more than 30 funded research projects. He holds a B.A. from the University of South Florida, an M.S. from Rollins College and a Ph.D. from the Florida State University. He holds several certifications and has completed the Management Development Program in the College of Higher Education at Harvard University.


In his leisure time Ernest enjoys traveling, outdoor activities, music, wine tasting and getting lost in museums. He and his wife Ellison live in Elk Grove, California and currently have no pets (which is unusual).

Ernest Cowles

Ernest L. Cowles, Ph.D.
ISR Director,
Professor of Sociology

Curriculum Vitae (pdf)