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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 7, 2004 | Vol. 34 No. 2
Search for School of Public Health's Next Dean Targets Fall 2005 Start Date

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

A search committee to identify the next dean for the School of Public Health has been appointed by President William R. Brody and convened by Provost Steven Knapp, who is serving as its chairman.

The committee anticipates identifying a candidate in time for him or her to be in place for the start of the 2005-2006 academic year.

Alfred Sommer, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for 14 years, announced in early May that he will step down in September 2005 to return to research and teaching.

"This is a great school that has made tremendous advances under the leadership of Dean Sommer," Knapp said. "While his will be a very hard act to follow, our job is to recommend to President Brody a small number of people who can build on Al Sommer's considerable success. We are looking for people who combine a clear vision for the future of public health, both globally and locally, with a collaborative style that will enable them to lead a highly talented and self-motivated faculty. A tall order, but we know there are people both here at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere who are up to this challenge and who will be attracted by the opportunity to lead the nation's foremost school of public health."

Among his many accomplishments, Sommer has forged strong partnerships with all other JHU divisions, which include an effort with the School of Medicine to devise a national model for training clinical researchers, and combined degree programs with both the School of Nursing and the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education. Sommer, a 1973 graduate of the School of Public Health, also led the school throughout its recently completed, massive 12-year effort to expand, renovate and modernize its 78-year-old campus.

To date, a position posting has been drafted and sent to several venues. Knapp said that the committee will begin meeting this month to discuss what specific qualifications it will be seeking and also to discuss the question of whether to engage internal and/or external consultants in helping the committee sharpen its focus.

Nominations are currently being solicited from faculty, staff and students. Recommendations should be brought to Knapp's attention by e-mail sent to

"Nominations by committee members and others are typically our most important sources of candidates, although we also advertise for good measure," Knapp said. "The role of the committee is first to cast as wide a net as possible, then to select a group of perhaps a dozen candidates to invite to campus for formal interviews, then to gather as much information as it can from each candidate's home institution and other relevant sources and finally to produce a list of three to five finalists to recommend to the president, who makes the final selection, subject to approval by the board of trustees."

Members of the search committee from the School of Public Health are Robert Black, chair of International Health; Patrick Breysse, professor; Josef Coresh, associate professor; Diane Griffin, chair of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology; Thomas LaVeist, professor; Ellen MacKenzie, professor; Cecile Pickart, professor; George Rebok, professor; Amy Tsui, professor; and Scott Zeger, chair of Biostatistics.

Other committee members are Knapp; Martha Hill, dean of the School of Nursing; Edward Miller, dean of the School of Medicine and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine; Robert Moffitt, professor of economics in the School of Arts and Sciences; and Edgar Roulhac, vice provost for academic services. Two Public Health students, still to be identified, will also serve on the search committee.

Knapp said that the new dean would lead the Bloomberg School in an era of global change and great opportunity.

"We live in a time in which the rapid movement of people and goods around the world can quickly lead to unforeseen epidemics. But this is also an era in which population-based health sciences are coming into their own and are providing unprecedented opportunities both to detect and prevent the spread of disease and to address those conditions that give rise to them in the first place," he said. "Finally, this is an era in which collaboration across disciplines is enhancing our understanding of problems that in the past we scarcely recognized, let alone understood. With its international scope and its access to state-of-the-art resources in medicine, nursing, engineering and the social sciences, there is no question that the Bloomberg School is uniquely positioned to address some of the most pressing issues of our generation."


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