President-elect Claudine Gay Announces Interim Deans

Appointments for engineering and public health schools, extension of divinity school dean’s tenure

Michael Smith, Jane Kim, and David Hempton

When Harvard President-elect Claudine Gay was chosen in December to become the University’s next president, she inherited a search to fill four open deanships.

Divinity School dean David HemptonSchool of Public Health dean Michelle Williams, and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences dean Frances Doyle had announced plans to depart at the end of the academic year—and as Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) dean, Gay had to find her own successor, too.

In recent weeks, interim arrangements to cover the three vacancies other than the FAS deanship itself have been announced. 

Gay announced the appointments of computer science professor Michael Smith as interim dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and health economics professor Jane Kim as interim dean of the School of Public Health (HSPH). She also announced that Hempton will continue to lead the Divinity School (HDS) through August.

Michael Smith Appointed SEAS Interim Dean

Michael D. Smith, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor and Finley professor of engineering and applied sciences, will serve as SEAS interim dean beginning July 1. Smith served as FAS dean from 2007 to 2018, and appointed Gay as dean of social science in 2015. President Lawrence S. Bacow appointed Gay as Smith’s successor.

“Mike led the FAS with consummate skill to financial strength and stability, growth and increased diversity in the faculty, an improved and refined tenure-track system, a renewed emphasis on teaching excellence, renewal in the House system, and much more,” wrote Gay in an email to SEAS affiliates Tuesday, adding that she is “grateful for Mike’s service in this role and confident that he will lead SEAS well, as the search for a permanent SEAS dean continues.”

Jane Kim Appointed SPH Interim Dean

Li professor of health economics Jane Kim, dean for academic affairs at the public health school, will serve as interim dean beginning July 1, Gay announced in early May.

Kim, a member of the department of health policy and management and the Center for Health Decision Science, succeeds Michelle Williams, who served as HSPH dean for seven years. 

After obtaining a master’s degree in health policy and management from HSPH in 2001, Kim earned a Harvard doctorate in health policy and decision sciences in 2005. In 2006, she joined the school as a professor, focusing her research on applying mathematical models to women’s health policy issues—for example, evaluating the cost-effectiveness of screening methods for cervical cancer in different countries. She also co-chaired the school’s Faculty Council and the Committee on the Advancement of Women Faculty, among other committee and academic assignments.

Gay wrote in a May 4 email to school affiliates that “Jane is a highly regarded colleague, mentor, and leader” and expressed thanks to Kim for “assuming a vital leadership role as our search for a permanent dean continues.”

HDS Dean David Hempton’s Service Extended

David Hempton will continue to lead HDS through August 31 as the search for his successor continues, Gay announced in early May.

Hempton, who became a professor at HDS in 2007 and dean of the faculty in 2012, announced last October that he will step down from his position, with plans to conclude his tenure at the close of the 2022-23 academic year while maintaining his teaching responsibilities.

In her May 9 email to HDS affiliates, Gay called Hempton “a wonderfully generous colleague.”

“I have always admired the care and skill with which he leads and serves the University,” she wrote. “It is a gift to all of us that he has agreed to prolong his departure.”

Read more articles by Ryan Doan-Nguyen
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