Epidemiologist Michelle A. Williams to Lead School of Public Health As First Black Harvard Faculty Dean

Michelle A. Williams, an epidemiologist and professor at the School of Public Health, will lead the school as its next dean beginning in July, becoming the first black person to head a faculty at Harvard and the first female dean of the school. COURTESY OF THE HARVARD GAZETTE
Michelle A. Williams, an epidemiologist and professor at the School of Public Health, will lead the school as its next dean beginning in July, becoming the first black person to head a faculty at Harvard and the first female dean of the school. COURTESY OF THE HARVARD GAZETTE

Michelle A. Williams, an epidemiologist and professor at the School of Public Health, will lead the school as its next dean beginning in July, becoming the first black person to head a faculty at Harvard and the first female dean of the school. 

Williams will take the reins from David J. Hunter, who has served as interim dean since Julio Frenk left the School of Public Health last year after six years as dean to become the president of the University of Miami. She assumes the position in the midst of the University’s ongoing capital campaign, as the school allocates a record-setting $350 million gift from billionaire benefactor Gerald L. Chan.

“She is a skilled builder of bridges—between the theoretical and the practical, the domestic and the international, the different disciplines that drive the School’s academic endeavors, and the different communities that shape its identity and aspirations,” University President Drew G. Faust said in a statement about Williams’s appointment. “I know she will approach her new role with the intelligence, dedication, integrity, and humane spirit that she brings to all she does.”

After earning her undergraduate degree at Princeton and a masters degree at Tufts, Williams attended the School of Public Health and later joined the faculty at the University of Washington. Since 2011, Williams has served as the chair of the epidemiology department at the School of Public Health, researching infant and maternal health across continents. She is the principal investigator of three projects funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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Source: The Harvard Crimson | ANDREW M. DUEHREN and DAPHNE C. THOMPSON