Karen Emmons named Dean for Academic Affairs


July 25, 2016

Dear Members of the Harvard Chan School Community:

I am delighted to announce that Karen M. Emmons, PhD – currently Vice President for Research and Director of the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute in Oakland, CA – will be our next Dean for Academic Affairs, rejoining the School after a three-year absence. Her first day as Dean for Academic Affairs will be November 1, 2016.

Karen will succeed David Hunter, ScD ’88, who served with distinction as Dean for Academic Affairs for seven years, including this past year as Acting Dean. I am grateful to David for his outstanding efforts in these roles. Both Karen and I will be working with David to ensure a smooth transition as he returns to being a faculty member at our School.

As Dean for Academic Affairs, Karen will work with me to oversee the major academic, research and educational operations of the School, including Faculty Affairs, Student Affairs, Education, Diversity and Inclusion, and Research Strategy and Development. Karen brings extensive research experience in health disparities and community-based interventions to improve health equity, issues that are critically important to the Harvard Chan School. She is also an outstanding mentor and has received several awards for her work mentoring students and junior faculty.

Many of you know Karen, who was a faculty member in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences from 1994-2014, and who served from 2009-2013 as the School’s Associate Dean for Research. In her Associate Dean’s role, she led the creation of the Office of Research Strategy and Development, now headed by Francesca Dominici, which provides critical services, support and strategic direction to faculty seeking to enhance their competitiveness for external funding. The work by Karen and her team helped the Harvard Chan School build and diversify its research portfolio, advanced the School’s capability to adhere to the highest research standards, and increased greatly the ability of our junior faculty to compete successfully for research funding. Karen was also a superb faculty member and research colleague at the Center for Community-Based Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where she built a reputation as a widely published expert in research related to cancer prevention, tobacco control and smoking cessation, cancer disparities, and translating health knowledge into improved health outcomes  in under-resourced settings.

Karen left the School in 2013 to become the Vice President for Research and Director of the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute at Kaiser Permanente. There her responsibilities included research development, research strategy, and development of a strong research compliance program. With more than 10 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia, Kaiser Permanente is the largest private, not-for-profit, integrated health system in the US, and it has a robust health research and clinical trials program. Karen will return to the School with significant knowledge gained from working with a strong research structure in an extremely successful health care organization, and with great respect for the research conducted at Kaiser Permanente.

Please join me in welcoming Karen Emmons back to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

With my best wishes,

Michelle A. Williams, ScD
Dean of the Faculty
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

photo: Rick Sheiber