The yearlong search for a new dean of the Yale School of Public Health is nearing an end. The search committee settled on a ranked short list of two names about a month ago, said Dean Robert Alpern of the Yale School of Medicine said, who is currently in negotiations with at least one of the two.

Paul Cleary, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, and James Ware ’63, dean for academic affairs at the Harvard School of Public Health, are on the short list, said Brian Leaderer, interim dean of the Yale School of Public Health. Another faculty member at the school said Cleary was negotiating the terms of a recruitment package with Alpern, but said he was unsure of Alpern’s top choice for dean.

Cleary declined to confirm that he was on the short list, citing confidentiality, and Ware did not return requests for comment by Tuesday night. Yale President Richard Levin declined to comment on the search, and Alpern said he would confirm the existence of a ranked short list, but not who was on it, citing confidentiality. Alpern said he will make the final choice of whom to appoint as dean, a position that includes the chairmanship of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health in the School of Medicine.

The dean’s post has been vacant for more than a year, occupied only temporarily by Leaderer, who stepped in as interim dean after Michael Merson, who is still a professor of public health at Yale, resigned in January 2005. The search began in early February 2005 with a committee of 10 faculty members from the schools of Medicine and Public Health and from Yale College.

Alpern said there was no application process, but numerous candidates were considered and five were interviewed.

“We reviewed many, many names, probably at least a hundred,” he said. “Some names were immediately discarded. Some stayed longer and then were discarded. Some people said they weren’t interested. It just kept getting shorter and shorter.”

Alpern said he was unsure how long he would take to make a decision, but said he knows what he will be looking for.

“The committee makes the recommendation to me, and I meet with the candidate and decide if we’re in agreement as to how the school should be run,” he said.

Cleary has been a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health since 1982 and is a member of the Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s and doctorate in sociology from the University of Wisconsin. His research focuses on the optimal use of patient reports and on the effects of various organizational techniques on patient care.

Ware has served as dean for academic affairs at the Harvard School of Public Health from 1990 to 1997 and again since 1999. In between he served as acting dean of the school. He has also served as a professor of biostatistics since 1979. He was a mathematics major at Yale and earned a doctorate in statistics from Stanford. Since 1991, he has been a statistical consultant to the New England Journal of Medicine, focusing his research on the analysis of longitudinal studies.

Dr. Mary Tinetti, a professor of medicine and head of the search committee, declined to comment on the search. Other members of the search committee could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Alpern said that searches for permanent chairmen of the departments of Internal Medicine and Laboratory Medicine are at the same stage as the School of Public Health dean search, and that he is meeting with the top candidates.