Yale School of Public Health Dean Sten Vermund announced Friday that Professor Linda Niccolai, PhD, has agreed to join the school’s leadership as associate dean for academic affairs effective July 1, 2022. The primary function of the associate dean is to oversee and coordinate the educational curriculum in the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH), sustaining positive momentum in the development of a distinct and innovative academic vision for the school.
Niccolai is currently interim chair of the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases. She also directs the Connecticut Emerging Infections Program at Yale and the HPV Vaccine Working Group at Yale. In her new position, Niccolai will chair YSPH’s Education Committee, which is responsible for educational policy and programs, including MPH, MS, and PhD programs, joint-degree programs, as well as YSPH’s role in public health education at Yale College and online programs, such as the Executive MPH, certificate programs, and future degree and non-degree programs.
In addition to working on curriculum development and coordination and delivery of the educational program, Niccolai will chair the Teaching and Mentoring Award Committee. She will report directly to the dean and serve on the Dean’s Leadership Team. Niccolai will also oversee matters involving the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), including the implementation of policies and procedures, the reaccreditation process and any required changes to the academic programs.
Additional collaborations with the Office of Student Affairs, the Director of Graduate Studies, the Office of Public Health Practice on course offerings and internships, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) to integrate DEIB into the curriculum and academic programs are integral to the Associate Dean for Academic Affair’s role as well.
Niccolai brings to the role a long history of dedication to excellence in the student experience and leadership successes at YSPH. A member of the faculty since 2002 and instructor of the core epidemiology class since 2008, she has taught and mentored hundreds of students, earning her the YSPH Award for Excellence in Teaching. Also, as director of the Connecticut Emerging Infections Program (CT EIP), over 200 MPH students have been trained in applied public health through employment, practicum, internship, and thesis opportunities that provide the valuable practical experience essential for the future public health workforce. Skilled in academic administration, Niccolai has served as both a member and Chair of the YSPH MPH Admissions Committee and as Chair of the Academic Advising Committee for the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases (EMD).
In addition to serving as the CT EIP Director, Niccolai has held several leadership positions at YSPH, including positions at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS in the Development Core, Office of International Training, and Community Research Core. She is also the founder and director of the HPV Working Group at Yale, an initiative that brings together diverse scientists from across the health sciences schools, as well as the Yale COVID-19 Contact Tracing Program. Most recently, she has taken the helm of EMD as interim chair while the next chair is being recruited.
Associate Dean Niccolai is expected to build on the strong academic foundation built by Melinda Pettigrew, PhD, senior associate dean of academic affairs and currently, deputy dean of YSPH. As recently announced by President Salovey in her appointment as YSPH interim dean on July 1, Pettigrew “has led efforts to develop distinctive educational programs since 2011, as associate dean and senior associate dean of academic affairs. 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. She has sustained the alignment between YSPH’s teaching mission and the tremendous research strengths of the school’s faculty, and she has integrated public health practice into the curriculum. Recently, she led the successful reaccreditation of YSPH through the Council on Education in Public Health. She also has served in many other roles to enhance the academic life of our community, including as the chair of the YSPH Education Committee; as a member of YSPH’s leadership team, strategic planning team, and Appointments & Promotions Committees; and as a member of the Poorvu Center Advisory Board.”
“Dean Pettigrew has been a steadfast advocate for the highest quality of education for our students and an invaluable strategic advisor to me on an array of administrative matters at the school,” Vermund said Friday. “I am grateful to all those who dedicate their careers to world-class education and empowering students to innovate and collaborate towards health for all. Please join me with profound gratitude and congratulations for Dr. Pettigrew’s dedication and successes and in warmly welcoming Dr. Niccolai into her new leadership role!”