President Joe Biden has selected Dean of the School of Public Health Ashish Jha as the next White House coronavirus response coordinator, according to a community-wide email from President Christina Paxson P’19 and Provost Richard Locke P’18.
In the short-term special assignment, Jha will lead the U.S. government response to the COVID-19 pandemic and advance the nation’s global health priorities and policies, according to the email.
“We are thrilled that this appointment brings a top scholar and highly-regarded Brown academic leader to White House service, offering a prominent illustration of the ways in which the University can make a positive impact on domestic and global issues of significant consequence,” Paxson and Locke wrote.
“Ashish will bring to President Biden and our nation what he has successfully brought — and will bring back — to Brown: an unrivaled commitment to improving public health equitably, effectively, creatively, with heart and a commitment to science,” they wrote. “The work he has begun at the School of Public Health will continue with the strong team he has recruited and the full support of the University.”
In a March 17 statement, Biden outlined the country’s priorities in its continued response to the pandemic — including approving a vaccine for young children, improving COVID-19 responses at schools, distributing tests and masks and fighting the virus and its variants abroad.
“Dr. Jha is one of the leading public health experts in America, and a well-known figure to many Americans from his wise and calming public presence,” Biden said in the statement. “As we enter a new moment in the pandemic — executing on my National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan and managing the ongoing risks from COVID — Dr. Jha is the perfect person for the job.”
“For all the progress we’ve made in this pandemic (and there is a lot) we still have important work to do to protect Americans’ lives and well being,” Jha wrote in a tweet. “So when (Biden) asked me to serve, I was honored to have the opportunity.”
Jha will succeed former coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients, according to the statement from the White House. Jha will take a leave from the School of Public Health beginning April 5 to assume the position. The University will announce an interim dean for the School of Public Health in the coming days, according to the email by Paxson and Locke.
Caleb Lazar is the senior editor of data desk for The Brown Daily Herald's 133rd Editorial Board.