Jeffrey Koplan ’66, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the vice president for academic health affairs at Emory University, was elected this summer to become the newest member of the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest decision-making body.

Elected by Yale alumni, Koplan replaced renowned surgeon Benjamin Carson ’73, whose term ended in June. Koplan’s experience in public health includes four years as director of the CDC and a term as Assistant U.S. Surgeon General from 1989 to 1994. From 1994 to 1998, Koplan was president of the Prudential Insurance Company’s Center for Health Care Research.

Yale President Richard Levin said he was pleased with Koplan’s election to the Corporation.

“He is very eager to get involved and he certainly brings valuable knowledge and background to our group,” Levin said.

As an undergraduate at Yale, Koplan said becoming one of the Corporation’s 16 trustees seemed to be “an unattainable goal” but said he feels fortunate to have been chosen.

“Of all the ways to spend one’s time, this seems to me to be a wonderful one,” Koplan said. “I feel like a bit of an impostor, being on the Corporation, but having said that, it’s been both flattering and a heavy responsibility.”

Koplan said he is particularly interested in medicine and public health at Yale but is also intrigued by the art galleries, the Yale School of Drama and the English and History Departments.

“I’m certainly interested in [speaking with] students from other disciplines,” he said. “One of the delights of the University is its spectrum of teaching and acquisition of knowledge, so I’m eager to learn what goes on in the other areas and how they can continue on a trajectory of excellence.”

Koplan said he enjoys his new position as trustee.

“To me, it’s like being a kid in a candy store,” he said.

Koplan is currently finishing a consultation with the government of Hong Kong on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. He is also working with experts in Massachusetts toward the prevention of childhood obesity.

Emory Public Health School Dean James Curran, who has known Koplan for over 25 years, said Koplan’s experience will serve him well at Yale.

“Dr. Koplan brings with him a distinguished background in public health, international health and public service, and he has a true global vision of what service means,” Curran said. “He is someone who will bring [to the Corporation] a sense of — social conscience to go along with academic excellence.”

Koplan studied English at Yale before graduating from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and Harvard University’s School of Public Health. His term as a Yale Alumni Fellow will end in 2009.