Professor Noel Stowe, a member of the Arizona Heritage Alliance since 1994, came to Arizona State University in 1967, after receiving his B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and teaching briefly at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. In 1978, he became the History Department’s director of graduate study. In his eight years in that position he expanded the master’s and doctoral degree programs and founded the Public History Program, which under his direction achieved national and international recognition. He directed more than fifty graduate theses and dissertations. His students have gone on to direct public history programs at other universities, and to work in museums, historical societies, and archives across the country.
In 1987, Stowe became assistant dean of the Graduate College, and in 1991 he became associate dean. He promoted ASU’s participation in national projects funded by the Pew Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation. He was dedicated to improving the graduate experience of students throughout the university and to promoting the admission and success of minority students. After a year as interim dean, he returned to the history department, which he chaired from 1998 to 2006. Stowe was also a productive scholar, with three books and more than a dozen articles published. He directed grant-funded projects of more than $1 million.
At ASU, his achievements in teaching and service were recognized with the Faculty Achievement Award, the Gary S. Krahenbuhl Difference Maker Award, the Faculty Appreciation Award, and the History Associates Award. Stowe worked tirelessly on the national stage to broaden the opportunities for historians beyond the walls of the university. He was one of the founders of the National Council on Public History and served as its president in 1985-86. He had represented NCPH as a delegate to the American Council of Learned Societies since 2005.
Stowe became active in the Oral History Association in the 1980s. He was a member of the Executive Board of the Southwest Oral History Association from 1989 to 1994 and its resident in 1992-93. He was a lifetime member of the Organization of American Historians. He participated in the work of the American Historical Association as a member of the Committee on Redefining Scholarly Work in 1992-94; as a participant in the AHA’s Wingspread Group on the Future of the History Master’s Degree in 2005; and as a member of the Task Force on Public History from 2001-2005. He worked on the Program Committee for the American Association for State and Local History from 2002 to 2007.
Stowe was a westerner and had lived in the Phoenix area for more than forty years. His interest in Arizona history led to contributions far beyond the ASU campus. He was a member of both the state and local boards of the Arizona Historical Society and helped establish Friends of Arizona Archives, serving as their vice president and as a member of their advisory board. His work with the Coordinating Council for History in Arizona enhanced both training and the exchange of expert knowledge among workers in Arizona cultural institutions. He was a member of the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission and was particularly excited about the coming centennial of statehood, having organized a conference for the seventy-fifth anniversary that resulted in the publication of “Arizona at Seventy-Five: the Next Twenty-Five Years (1987),” which he co-edited. In August 2008, he and a team of researchers received a National Endowment for the Humanities planning grant to design and implement “Becoming Arizona, an online encyclopedia of Arizona history, culture, politics, economics and other topics as a Centennial project. He worked closely with the Arizona Humanities Council, who presented him with the Friend of the Humanities Award in 2004. In June 2008 he received the Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Award. When he and his family moved to Chandler, he helped found the public history program and the city museum.
Stowe is survived by his wife, Gwen. Their son, James, died in 2007. He and his family request that donations in his memory be made to The Noel J. and Gwen J. Stowe Public History Endowment, 40-A-MLHS0003, to support scholarly activities in public history in the Department of History, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe campus.