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Melinda Pettigrew Begins Term as Interim Dean of YSPH

Yale Public Health Magazine, Yale Public Health: Fall 2022


I look forward to working with you to further refine our distinctive academic, research, and practice vision and its impact on the field of public health and the communities we serve.

Melinda Pettigrew

Deputy Dean Melinda Pettigrew, Yale’s Anna M.R. Lauder Professor of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases), began her term as interim dean of the Yale School of Public Health on July 1. 

Sten Vermund, MD, PhD, returned to full-time teaching and research when his five-year term as dean ended on June 30, 2022. A search advisory committee led by Melinda Irwin, MPH, PhD, the YSPH associate dean of research and Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases), is working to identify potential candidates to serve as the next dean. 

In announcing the interim appointment of Pettigrew, PhD ’99, Yale President Peter Salovey praised her experience, knowledge, and dedication. 

“Many of you know Dean Pettigrew well,” Salovey said. “She has been part of the YSPH community for two decades. A renowned investigator and award-winning educator, she has devoted considerable time to enriching the intellectual environment of the school.”

Pettigrew has led efforts to develop distinctive educational programs at YSPH, first as associate dean of academic affairs (2011–17) and then as senior associate dean for academic affairs (2017–22). In these roles, she expanded the academic affairs team, oversaw the development of online education degree and certificate programs, and helped launch multidisciplinary concentrations in U.S. health justice, climate change, global health, and public health modeling. 

An internationally recognized infectious disease epidemiologist, Pettigrew conducts research on the global health threat of antibiotic resistance. 

In a message to the YSPH community, Pettigrew said she was honored to serve as interim dean and noted that “this is a critical time in the history of YSPH.”

“Our work moving forward will focus on mapping out strategies for a successful transition to an independent professional school and on securing an additional $50 million in endowment funds that will allow us to obtain the maximum benefit from the university’s investment and confidence in public health at Yale,” she said.

Pettigrew also took a moment to lay out her vision for the year ahead.

“As Interim Dean, I will strive to create and sustain an environment where our faculty, staff, and students feel part of a community and are empowered to discover, innovate, and affect change,” Pettigrew said. “We will continue with a strong and unwavering commitment to combating racism as we will never achieve health for all until we address the injustices of racism. We will work together on navigating the transition of SARS-CoV-2 from a pandemic to endemic virus. We will expand our efforts to advocate for equitable global health responses to newly spreading pathogens such as monkeypox, ‘old’ pathogens such as tuberculosis, and population displacement due to political instability, climate change, and war. We will continue to address planetary health, focus on chronic diseases such as cancer, and advance public health prevention across the lifespan. 

“I look forward to working with you to further refine our distinctive academic, research, and practice vision and its impact on the field of public health and the communities we serve,” she said. 

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