Distributed March 19, 2003
News Service Contact: Mark Nickel
Valerie Petit Wilson named executive director of Leadership Alliance
Valerie Petit Wilson, currently deputy director of the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research and clinical associate professor of environmental health sciences at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, has been named executive director of the Leadership Alliance at Brown University. Wilson will begin her work at Brown July 1, 2003.
“The work of the Leadership Alliance is of crucial importance to higher education and to our nation,” said Brown President Ruth J. Simmons. “Valerie Wilson is an accomplished scholar, administrator and policy-maker. She brings to the Leadership Alliance the intelligence and experience needed to extend the work and mission of the Alliance consortium. I am delighted that she will be joining us at Brown and undertaking this important work.”
The Leadership Alliance, based at Brown, is an association of 31 colleges and universities working to broaden the pipeline to the nation’s graduate schools and the professoriate. Since 1992, it has offered internships and mentoring for undergraduates, support and fellowships for graduate students, and a variety of development opportunities and research exchanges for faculty. The Alliance predicts that over the next 10 years, as many as 500 of its program alumni will have enrolled in Ph.D. or other terminal degree programs.
A graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana (B.S., 1970, chemistry/pre-med), Wilson earned her Ph.D. in molecular biology and genetics at Johns Hopkins University in 1976, where she was a Ford Foundation pre-doctoral fellow. After a post-doctoral year in human genetics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Wilson joined the National Institutes of Health, where she conducted research at the National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
In 1981, she began a series of assignments as a research administrator and program manager within NIH and then went on to positions in health policy and program analysis with the Public Health Service. She was acting director of the National AIDS Program Office in the Public Health Service in 1993, when she moved to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine as director of the Division of Health Sciences Policy.
In 1998, Wilson was appointed clinical associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and deputy director of the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane University.
“Expanding participation in the scientific and scholarly enterprise will increase our nation’s intellectual capacities,” Wilson said. “The Leadership Alliance, with its diverse membership, is exceptionally well-positioned to serve academia and ultimately the nation by helping to prepare students for advanced graduate study.”
Simmons led the search for the new director, chairing a consortium committee that included Clyde Briant, professor of engineering at Brown; Kofi Bota, professor of chemistry at Clark Atlanta University; Lewis Gordon, professor of Africana studies at Brown; Jacquelyne Gorum, dean of the School of Professional Studies at Delaware State University; Robert L. Harris Jr., vice provost at Cornell University; Joel Oppenheim, associate dean for graduate studies at the New York University School of Medicine; Sharon Rounds, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Brown Medical School; and Thomas Redd, a Brown graduate student in applied mathematics.
The Leadership Alliance
In 1990, Vartan Gregorian, Brown's 16th president, along with founding executive director James Wyche, associate professor of medical science, challenged the Ivy League to create a bold new strategy that would address diversity issues in the leadership of U.S. higher education.
Four other Ivy League schools joined Brown, and what was called the Ivy Consortium met for the first time in December 1991. Within a year, the Consortium, renamed the Leadership Alliance, had 23 member colleges and universities, including all eight Ivy League schools and a number of minority-serving colleges and universities.
Since its first full year of programming in 1993, the Leadership Alliance has received more than $8 million in support of its programs. More than 100 faculty exchanges have taken place among Alliance member institutions. Forty percent of nearly 1,000 participants in its summer research programs have gone on to graduate school and M.D./Ph.D. programs.