Yale News

University President Peter Salovey on Tuesday announced that Sten Vermund will step down as Dean of the School of Public Health once his term ends on June 30.

In an University-wide email sent Oct. 19, Salovey wrote that Vermund, who is also the Anna M.R. Lauder Professor of Public Health, will return to teaching full-time after concluding his term as Dean. According to the email, Salovey will begin the search for Vermund’s successor in the next few weeks and plans to appoint a search advisory committee that will “seek broad input from School of Public Health faculty, students, staff and alumni,” in addition to seeking assistance from a search firm.

“The school, including its staff and students, has had an historic impact in this COVID-19 year; YSPH is better recognized and appreciated in the state and the nation than ever, winning three community awards in the past year,” Vermund wrote in an email to the News. “Two of the last three years have been the highest in our school’s history in donations received.”

Vermund added that he was hopeful about the future of YSPH, pointing to the high quality of teaching and research, in addition to newly established multidisciplinary concentrations and an online Executive MPH program. 

In an email to the News, Associate Dean Melinda Irwin said that Vermund had done “an extraordinary job.”

“We will miss him on the front line but know that he will continue to be a strong supporter of YSPH, its faculty, staff, students and alumni,” Irwin wrote. “With our interdisciplinary focus, strong collaborations across diverse fields and focus on the local and global community, YSPH is well positioned to be one of the best Schools of Public Health in the nation.”

In addition to Vermund’s accomplishments in the position, Irwin spoke to his high level of compassion. 

Epidemiology professor Luke Davis echoed Vermund’s tangible impacts on the School, ranging from fundraising to faculty recruitment. He added that Vermund has emphasized social and ethical issues, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Dean Vermund has had an outsized impact on the Yale School of Public Health, overseeing dramatic growth by every important school metric, from enrollment to faculty to funding to research productivity and impact,” Davis wrote in an email to the News. “Most importantly, Sten has been a powerful and authentic voice for science, social justice and ethical leadership during the most important public health crisis of our time.”

In an email to the News, associate professor of epidemiology Gregg Gonsalves wrote that he has known Vermund for almost 30 years, and that YSPH was lucky to have his leadership over the past five years.

“He is an ‘elder’ of the AIDS epidemic, he was there at the beginning as a pediatrician in the Bronx when no one would hold ‘AIDS babies’ for fear of getting infected,” Gonsalves wrote. “He’s been a leader in HIV prevention research in the US and around the world; he is one of the most eminent scientists in our field.”

Vermund said that he is looking forward to returning to teaching, and specifically mentioned his love of teaching, epidemiology research, assisting in public health practice and community service.

Going forward, Gonsalves emphasized that the responsibility will fall on other Yale leadership to support the future of YSPH.

“The ball is now in Yale President Peter Salovey and Dean of the Yale Medical School Nancy Brown’s court: what are they going to do to provide leadership to this school in the midst of a pandemic, invest in the future of public health research and pedagogy at Yale, show us that they give a damn about this work?” Gonsalves wrote.

Nancy Brown, the Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of the Yale School of Medicine, said that the YSM enjoys “remarkable partnerships” with YSPH, and that YSM is “committed to nurturing these collaborations and to supporting actively YSPH and [Vermund’s] successor.”

In his message to the Yale community, Salovey wrote that he respects Vermund’s decision, and is grateful that he will continue teaching at Yale to provide others with his expertise, describing Vermund as an “internationally recognized investigator and educator in public health.”

“Under Dean Vermund’s leadership, the faculty, research portfolio, and educational programs of Yale School of Public Health have grown,” Brown said. “Over the last 18 months, YSPH faculty have educated all of us as they developed novel approaches to diagnose and prevent COVID-19 and informed local, national, and international policy.”

Vermund’s term as Dean of the School of Public Health began on Feb. 1, 2017.