Dear Members of the Brown Community,

We are writing to share the exciting news that Dean of the School of Public Health Ashish K. Jha has been selected by U.S. President Joe Biden as the next White House coronavirus response coordinator. In this short-term special assignment, Ashish will lead the response of the entire U.S. government to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also advancing the nation’s global health priorities and policies.

Ashish will take a leave from the School of Public Health for this temporary role performing a critical service in the nation’s pandemic response and advising President Biden, beginning April 5, 2022. We are thrilled that this appointment brings a top scholar and highly regarded Brown academic leader to White House service, offering a prominent illustration of the ways in which the University can make a positive impact on domestic and global issues of significant consequence.

Ashish will bring to President Biden and our nation what he has successfully brought — and will bring back — to Brown: an unrivaled commitment to improving public health equitably, effectively, creatively, with heart and a commitment to science. The work he has begun at the School of Public Health will continue with the strong team he has recruited and the full support of the University. And it will advance even further with the benefit of this experience in national and global leadership.


Since arriving at Brown in September 2020, Ashish has built on a foundation of early progress from the School of Public Health’s first decade, growing its focus on tackling the most important issues in health policy and practice, devising new ways to expand the accessibility of Brown’s public health degrees and expanding the school’s reputation exponentially. As he heads to the White House to play an important role in the continued challenge of COVID-19, we look forward to building further on that momentum before we welcome him back.

During his tenure at Brown, Ashish has strengthened and grown the School of Public Health’s engagement with solving the world’s most challenging health problems. Under his leadership, Brown launched a new fully online master of public health degree program to expand the ranks of public health leaders across the globe equipped with the knowledge and skills to take on urgent health challenges. New academic initiatives focused on long COVID, pandemic preparedness and health misinformation are also underway.

Ashish oversaw the launch of the Health Equity Scholars program in 2020-21, launched with the goal of expanding diversity among public health leaders. In the past year, applications to SPH programs from prospective students of color increased by 150%; the school has established a need-based financial aid policy for students seeking a master in public health degree; and the number of tenure-track faculty from historically underrepresented groups increased by 60% in the last year alone, backed by record-level fundraising for SPH.

As Ashish prepares to head for the White House, SPH has at its help an outstanding team of academic and administrative leaders, a burgeoning set of new academic initiatives, and a commitment to student support that will persist as he steps away for his short-term temporary assignment. 

In the coming days, we will announce an interim dean to lead the School of Public Health in fulfilling its core priorities during Ashish’s assignment to the White House. Brown will continue to build on the energy and momentum in the school by cultivating and directing resources for faculty recruitment and retention, student financial aid, facilities, and academic program development.

This is a moment of extraordinary pride and opportunity for the Brown School of Public Health that brings even greater visibility to the groundbreaking work of our faculty, staff and students. Please join us in congratulating Ashish on this exceptional special assignment. 


Christina H. Paxson



Richard M. Locke