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University appoints Dr. Ashish Jha as new School of Public Health dean

Jha will be leaving his position as director of Harvard Global Health Institute

University News Editor
Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The new dean of the School of Public Health Ashish Jha is a renowned global health researcher, educator and practitioner.

Dr. Ashish Jha will be joining the University as the dean of the School of Public Health Sept. 2020.

Jha is currently the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and a professor at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. He will replace the University’s current Dean of the School of Public Health Bess Marcus, who announced December 2019 that she would be stepping down from the position after taking leadership November 2017.

“Jha is a renowned global health researcher, educator and practitioner. He is also a proven administrative leader who has values and ambitions that align very much with Brown’s,” Marisa Quinn, chief of staff to the provost, wrote in an email to The Herald.

Jha’s prompt selection was facilitated by earlier work: “The search committee in 2017 had identified (him) as a very promising candidate,” Quinn wrote. But at the time “he was not quite ready to leave his role (at Harvard T. H. Chan), and removed himself from consideration,” according to Quinn.

During the new search, Jha indicated he would be interested in the position. “President Paxson (P’19) reconvened the search committee and they enthusiastically endorsed the decision to offer him the position as dean of the School of Public Health,” Quinn wrote.

Jha will also join the President’s Cabinet in his capacity as dean of the School of Public Health and become a member of the provost’s Senior Academic Deans committee. “The Provost’s senior deans make up the University’s academic leadership. … The President’s Cabinet is an advisory group convened by the president, which consists of senior academic and administrative leaders,” Quinn wrote.

Jha said he was drawn to the School of Public Health, which was founded in 2013, because “it’s an opportunity to build and grow what is still a relatively small school within a great University.” He also noted that commitment by University leaders drew him to the position.

Jha also expressed excitement about the collaborative nature of the University. “If we’re going to solve big global public health problems, the solutions are not just going to come from public health experts,” but rather from “development economists, climate scientists and urban planners.” The collaborative environment of the University “makes it a more interesting place to go work,” Jha said.

Learning more about the University will be his first step, which Jha plans to undertake even before he is appointed. Though there are topics he thinks deserve attention that are usually not given enough focus at public health schools, “near the top of the list is climate change and its effects on health,” a topic he noted is included in the School of Public Health’s strategic plan. “I personally think we’re going to have to double down on that because there may be no more important public health topic for the next generation than climate change.” The Harvard Global Health Institute that Jha directs is focused on the issue.

The Harvard Global Health Institute has also been “very involved with the city of Boston in thinking about climate vulnerability specifically with a health angle. … We’ve done a lot of thinking with Boston about pandemic preparedness.” Jha said one of the critical parts of being at Brown would be to “do more locally” by engaging political and social leaders.

“Everything that I know about Brown, both as a University and the current leadership, makes me think the School of Public Health has lots of opportunities to be even more impactful. Anytime you can be a part of that process, it’s very exciting.”

Correction: A previous version of this story referred to Jha as the director of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. In fact, he is a professor of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. The Herald regrets the error.

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  1. Congratulations sir .
    Proud of you .

  2. Dino Mechery says:

    I look forward to meeting you soon Unni. Good luck & Best wishes till then.

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