BU appoints new dean of SPH

The Boston University School of Public Health has appointed Sandro Galea, formerly of Columbia University, as its new dean. He assumes the position on Jan. 1. PHOTO COURTESY SANDRO GALEA

The Boston University School of Public Health has appointed Sandro Galea, formerly of Columbia University, as its new dean. He assumes the position on Jan. 1. PHOTO COURTESY SANDRO GALEA

The Boston University School of Public Health has appointed a new dean who is an accomplished physician and teacher of epidemiology, BU announced in an email to faculty and staff Friday.

Sandro Galea, the Anna Cheskis Gelman and Murray Charles Gelman professor and chair of the epidemiology department at Columbia University, will begin on Jan. 1, succeeding SPH Dean Robert Meenan, a BU faculty member since 1977 and dean of SPH for 22 years.

“The BU SPH has a long history of excellence,” Galea said in an email. “Its faculty have made sentinel contributions to public health scholarship and practice, and its students are leaders in their fields. It will be a privilege to be part of the school going forward and to follow in Dean Meenan’s footsteps.”

Galea said he would work with members of the SPH community to shape the school’s educational mission to meet the world’s changing needs.

“Students come to a school of public health to become leaders in the field, to be prepared to contribute to the health of populations over their careers,” he said. “BU SPH has a responsibility to its students to prepare them with the best possible education, not simply for the needs of today, but for the needs of populations in coming decades.”

Before his tenure at Columbia, Galea was director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Global Health. He is a member of the New York City Board of Health and chair of the Community Service Board at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Brian Jack, a School of Medicine professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at BU, led the search committee to appoint SPH’s new dean. He said Galea was exceptionally qualified as a scholar, teacher and administrator.

“His record of scholarship and research is in the top tier,” Jack said. “His credentials at teaching are spectacular. His teaching ratings by students are off the scale. His ability as an administrator and diplomat are fantastic, which all the places that he had worked previously testified to.”

Jack said BU SPH is poised to enter the upper echelon of public health schools, and he believes Galea is the right candidate to lead the school in that direction.

“Dr. Galea’s track record of improving the units that he is in charge of, in terms of academic productivity, in terms of research productivity and grant fundraising, is fantastic,” he said. “I think he will bring those skills here.”

Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs Julie Sandell said she was delighted to learn of Galea’s appointment, calling him tremendously qualified as a scholar and administrator.

“Our School of Public Health is already a leader among schools of public health,” she said. “I expect under Dr. Galea’s leadership that BU SPH will have even greater impact on the discipline and in the training of public health practitioners and academics.”

Jeannie Do, a first-year graduate student in SPH, said Galea’s expertise in epidemiology will prove useful for the school.

“He’ll have a really good view of what we study,” she said. “Since he is so renowned and has a lot of experience, he could probably connect us with other leaders around the world and bring in a new perspective for what we study.”

First-year SPH graduate student Julia Hall said Galea’s excellent national and international reputation would prove an exciting addition to SPH.

“His experience can really bring a lot of international background,” she said. “It seems like he’s worked in so many places.”

Hall said she was particularly interested in Galea’s research on the impacts of global conflict and trauma, including the toll of events such as the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

“They’re important events that you don’t necessarily know who is actually looking at them and learning from them,” she said. “It would be so cool to learn more about that, because there are so many traumatic events going on these days…and the best way to address them is to get real experience with them.”

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