It is indeed my privilege to lead the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. I have a nearly 30-year relationship with this wonderful School, beginning in 1986 as a master’s student, then as a proud alumna, later as a member of the faculty and chair of Epidemiology – one of the School’s largest departments, and now as Dean.
I have witnessed the transformative impact which this institution can have on the health of communities in need through our education of students and our research in the laboratory and in the field. We are a community of individuals who bring together expertise from a wide variety of arenas to produce new knowledge, powerful ideas, and practical solutions to major public health challenges. Our work improves the health and transforms the lives of people everywhere, informing and influencing everything from individual habits to health care systems and government policies.
In the 20th century, advances in knowledge about how best to protect the public’s health helped double the average life expectancy in the US and many parts of the world. But today, our progress is threatened by old pandemics such as TB and AIDS, and new pandemics like Ebola and Zika; pollution and climate change that endanger our health and our planet; social forces including poverty, war, discrimination, and humanitarian crises that adversely affect well-being; and failing health systems in the US and globally that make it difficult for people to receive vital preventive care and medical treatments they need at costs they can afford.
This is a crucial moment for public health in the United States and around the world, and we at the Harvard Chan School have an imperative to both serve and lead. I look forward to working together with our faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends to harness the energy and dedication that drives every member of our Harvard Chan School community. Together we will propel the School’s collective work to confront, understand and solve the major public health challenges we all face.
Michelle A. Williams
Dean of the Faculty