Michelle A. Williams, S.M. ’88, Sc.D. ’91, a distinguished epidemiologist and award-winning educator known for her influential studies of maternal and child health around the world, will become the next dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, starting in July.Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Williams immigrated to New York with her family at age 7.
“Everything I do, I recognize the pivotally important decision my family made to come to the United States,” she said, crediting her education and her opportunity to “climb the social ladder” to that decision.
She graduated from Princeton University in 1984, and later earned advanced degrees from Tufts University and the Harvard School of Public Health. A postdoctoral research fellowship brought her to the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine. She joined the faculty and served as a professor and researcher until 2011, when she was recruited back to Harvard.
Since 2011, Williams has been the Stephen B. Kay Family Professor of Public Health and chair of the Epidemiology Department at the Harvard Chan School.
ScD, 1991, Harvard School of Public Health (Epidemiology)
SM, 1988, Harvard School of Public Health (Demography, Population Sciences)
MS, 1986, Tufts University (Civil Engineering, Public Health)
AB, 1984, Princeton University (Biology, Developmental Genetics)
“I am honored and excited by the opportunity to lead the Harvard Chan School, and grateful to President Faust for inviting me to serve in this role at such a crucial moment for public health in the United States and around the world,” said Williams. “As an alumna and faculty member, I have witnessed the transformative impact that this institution can have in education, research, and discovery related to the health of communities in need. We have an imperative to lead and to serve, and I am looking forward to working even more closely with the School’s faculty, students, staff, and alumni to build on the School’s achievements under [prior Dean] Julio Frenk’s remarkable leadership and to advance our collective commitment to understanding and confronting public health challenges worldwide.”
“Michelle Williams is an eminent epidemiologist, an outstanding teacher and mentor, and an energizing leader and institutional citizen, impassioned about the power of public health to change people’s lives for the better,” said Harvard President Drew Faust in announcing the appointment.
“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,” Faust added. “I know she will approach her new role with the intelligence, dedication, integrity, and humane spirit that she brings to all she does.”
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