Yale University President Peter Salovey joined members of the Yale community in welcoming Dr. Megan L. Ranney, MD, MPH, as the new dean of the Yale School of Public Health during a reception at the Schwarzman Center on Wednesday, September 13, 2023.
The event drew students, staff, and faculty from YSPH and University leaders who braved a late afternoon rainstorm to officially welcome Ranney to Yale.
“I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be here, and to be here with all of you,” Ranney said. “I also have to acknowledge that you all showed great public health spirit by traipsing out in that downpour.”
Ranney became dean of YSPH on July 1, 2023, and was named the C.-E. A. Winslow Professor of Public Health. She is an internationally recognized public health leader, investigator, advocate, and clinician-scientist.
An emergency physician, Ranney is nationally known for her advocacy and research on firearm injury prevention as well as her community-driven approaches to addressing longstanding and emerging public health problems.
“There are very few people in this country who can talk epidemiology while talking gun violence, and while serving on the staff of an emergency room – she can do all of that in the same day. It’s really remarkable,” Salovey said.
As dean, Ranney is overseeing the school’s historic transition from a department within the Yale School of Medicine to a fully independent, self-sustaining professional school.
The COVID pandemic shaped the public’s perception of the value of public health, Salovey said. “I believe that the time for public health to be at the center of academic thinking, of public policy has come, and for Yale to be the center of that kind of scholarship, teaching, and impact.”
Salovey referred to the school as “a gem, and a unique environment for research and for education, and for connections to the New Haven community, U.S. policy, and the world.” YSPH needed to be its own school “separate from other entities, but collaborative with other entities, in order to develop its own culture, to fully realize its mission,” Salovey added.
Ranney, he said, is the person to lead the effort to create a resilient school and an equitable society together with the school’s faculty and students.
Ranney called this period of the school’s history, as it moves into independence after 108 years of dependence, a moment of paradigm shift. “There is so much possibility ahead, and we are the ones to create it and to lead it,” she said.
“It is precisely because we are moving from dependence to independence right now, with the support of a truly outstanding university, that we have this opportunity to be transformational, to define what a school of public health of the future looks like, to think beyond the boundaries of the training that we received and the work that we have done up until this moment,” she said.
“If you don’t take anything else away from tonight, I hope you will take this: We can together revolutionize the building blocks of societal health, the field of public health.”
She asked the audience to think about how their work can shape the paradigm shift inside the school and in the larger community. “This future is possible; it is very much up to us,” she said. “I look forward to defining the future of public health for the next century, the same way Yale did a century ago, together.”