Dean of School of Public Health stepping down in July after 11-year term

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Stephen Shortell, dean of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health for more than 10 years, will be stepping down in July to devote more time to research and teaching, officials announced last week.

Although deans typically only serve five-year terms, the 2012-13 school year is Shortell’s 11th year in the position. He agreed to stay on this year to see the school through meeting its fundraising goal of $110 million as part of the campuswide Campaign for Berkeley fundraising effort, which aims to raise $3 billion and is set to end in 2013.

Under Shortell’s direction, the School of Public Health reinstituted the undergraduate public health major, developed Berkeley’s first largely online degree program and increased its percentage of underrepresented minority students.

Although there was initial skepticism about whether a public health undergraduate major at Berkeley would be successful, Shortell worked with faculty members and campus officials to re-establish it in 2003 after a more than 40-year hiatus. It has since became extremely popular and is currently an impacted major.

“It was a great service to the UC Berkeley campus for all those undergraduates who want to go pursue a health degree — MD, nursing or dentistry,” said Patricia Hosel, assistant dean of external relations and development at the school. “There weren’t many pathways for them to get those pre-med and health courses.”

He also helped pioneer the school’s online master’s of public health degree program — currently in its second semester — which is geared toward midlevel professionals currently working in health settings who seek additional training but do not have the time to take off from work. The online degree program was the first of its kind at Berkeley.

Additionally, during Shortell’s tenure, the school was able to significantly increase its percentage of underrepresented minority students from 9 percent in 2005 to 25 percent this year through outreach to undergraduate feeder schools and obtaining more financial resources to reach out to these students.

“We have also raised nearly $110 million of philanthropic funds over the past five years,” said Shortell in an email, “and are hopeful of securing additional funds needed to build (a) new home for our school.”

If the construction of a new building to house the school is not made a reality by the time Shortell steps down, it is something some faculty members hope will be accomplished during the term of the next dean.

A search is already under way to find Shortell’s replacement, who will take over on July 1. Nominations and applications are open not only to current faculty members but also to those qualified outside the school and are due mid-January.

“(Shortell) teaches strategic planning, and he has definitely had a vision for this school,” said Joan Bloom, a campus professor of health policy and management. “I think that would be important for a new dean to understand the place of the school within the campus. Those are important functions. We can raise funds. We support the campus.”


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