Geoffrey Cowan

University Professor of Communication and Law
Last Updated: September 27, 2023

Geoffrey Cowan is a University Professor and dean emeritus who specializes in communications and media law. He holds a joint appointment with the USC Annenberg School for Communication, where he holds the Annenberg Family Chair in Communication Leadership and served as Dean from 1996 to 2007. After his tenure as dean, he served as president of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands from 2010-2016, and founded the Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, which he continues to direct.

Cowan is the former director of Voice of America, a position to which he was appointed by President Bill Clinton. He also served as associate director of the United States Information Agency and director of the International Broadcasting Bureau. Earlier, he founded the Center for Law and Social Policy, a public interest agency which has represented civil rights groups, women’s organizations, labor unions, and environmentalists in landmark FCC proceedings. He also is a founding member of the Vera Institute for Justice’s Police Assessment Resource Center Board. In 2001, Cowan was appointed by California Govenor Gray Davis to a bipartisan commission on Internet political practices. In addition, he has worked as a television producer, receiving an Emmy Award as executive producer of the movie “Mark Twain And Me.”

Cowan graduated from Harvard University, where he received his BA, and Yale University, where he earned his LLB. In addition to his numerous scholarly writings, he has authored books including Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary, The People v. Clarence Darrow: The Bribery Trial of America’s Greatest Lawyer, and See No Evil: The Backstage Battle Over Sex and Violence on Television.