A reflection and thank you

Dear School of Public Health Community,

As I conclude my tenure as Dean, I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of personal support and the collective celebration of our School’s achievements and unified growth since I arrived in fall of 2017. From heartfelt notes, to the beautiful and touching virtual send-off that you hosted for me, I am reminded of the fabulous community that we have built. While I reflect on the past few years, I want to express my gratitude to all of you for making so many accomplishments possible.

Together, we created a comprehensive strategic plan, Advancing Well-Being for All, that positions the School to take on urgent health challenges, improve health equity, and optimize the health outcomes of future generations.

We greatly expanded the School’s research portfolio, climbing to the number six ranking among public health schools in National Institutes of Health funding. Our major research accomplishments include the School’s inaugural Associate Dean for Research, a catalyst grant program to develop innovative and interdisciplinary projects, the expansion of our Mindfulness Center, major grants and collaborations directly aligned with the core themes and capacities of our strategic plan, and the largest grant in the history of Brown University to develop the IMPACT Collaboratory that aims to improve health care and quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, as well as their caregivers.

The School has established an incredible community of supporters and team of community partners, including strong relationships with the Rhode Island Department of Health, an actively engaged Advisory Council and Community Advisory Board, and a network of energized alumni proud of our amazing work.

This work has been amplified through our ever-increasing number of School events and co-sponsorships. We grew our suite of programming to celebrate National Public Health Week, from panels and presentations, to community wellness offerings, to our flagship Public Health Research Day that spotlights the incredible work of our students, trainees, and partners. In fact, we were on track to have our most events ever this year before the pandemic hit—and even then we mobilized to make Research Day happen online.

All of your achievements were recognized when our School was ranked 17th out of 177 schools and programs of public health by US News & World Report the first year we were eligible for the rankings in 2019.

I would like to thank all of you for making this possible.

Thank you to Founding Dean Fox Wetle for laying the foundation and setting the School on a path for such great success.

Thank you to the staff, from my team on the third floor of 121 South Main Street, to every center, department, and program administrator, investigator, and research assistant. You are the driving force behind everything for our students, faculty, research, and community building.

Thank you to the students for being simply amazing. You are the next generation of public health professionals, and your accomplishments make me confident that the world is in capable hands, even during one of the most challenging public health crises in history. Not only have you excelled in the classroom and produced game-changing research, but you have spoken up on important issues while supporting one another and advocating for change.

Thank you to the associate deans, department chairs, program directors, and center directors. I could not have asked for better partners, and you have helped steer our evolving School to so many great accomplishments.

And thank you to all of the faculty and postdocs, for your terrific teaching, mentoring, research, and partnership. You have been at the forefront of tackling challenges such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, opioids and addiction, end of life care, and numerous other critical areas.

I have enjoyed getting to know so many of you on both a professional and personal level through our events, individual meetings, and the informal discussions at our Coffee and Conversations with the Deans. I am thrilled to remain part of such a magnificent community as a researcher and educator.

I am stepping away from the Deanship during a time of true heartbreak and uncertainty across society. But I am inspired daily by the dedication of our amazing School community and community partners to advance our mission-critical work of addressing urgent health challenges and improving health equity. I have been honored to lead this institution and look forward to our continued work together in my next chapter. I have the utmost confidence that interim dean David Savitz and incoming dean Ashish Jha will not only maintain the momentum that we have created, but continue to steward the School to even greater heights.

Please keep in touch, and I hope to see you all on campus soon.


Bess H. Marcus, PhD
Dean, Brown University School of Public Health
Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences