Marjorie Aelion, dean of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) since January 2009, has been named associate vice chancellor for Research and Engagement. Her appointment is effective in January, though she will begin her new duties after a year-long sabbatical supported by a Fulbright Global Scholar award.
Nancy Cohen, professor of nutrition and senior planning officer in the Chancellor’s Office, has been appointed interim dean by John McCarthy, provost and senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.
Aelion, a 1980 UMass Amherst graduate in environmental sciences, returned to campus to lead SPHHS following two years as associate dean for research at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.
“Marjorie Aelion has served our community with dedication and distinction for the past decade as SPHHS dean,” McCarthy said. “I know she will continue to be an important contributor to our campus success in her new role in Research and Engagement.”
During her tenure at SPHHS, she re-established the departments of biostatistics and epidemiology, environmental health sciences, and health promotion and policy and dissolved the department of public health, bringing the school more in line with national norms.
McCarthy noted that under Aelion’s leadership, full-time faculty increased from 55 to 90; sponsored research awards rose from $8 million to $20 million; the school’s endowment rose by 50 percent; and accreditation was renewed for the maximum term. “The improvements in SPHHS’s research profile have been exceptional, and I expect that Aelion will bring her talents in this area to her new role,” said McCarthy.
During Aelion’s tenure as dean, SPHHS developed three new 4+1 BS/MPH and four new 4+1 BS/MS programs; increased the number of undergraduate academic advisors in departments and at the school level; and added a career advisor. The school also created the SPHHS Center for Student Success as well as undergraduate and graduate education enhancement programs.
Aelion established a Dean’s Doctoral Fellowship Award to recruit doctoral students and a Dean’s Graduate Student Travel Fund for graduate students doing international research. Also during her tenure, SPHHS collaborated with the International Programs Office to establish the Public Health in Cuba program for undergraduate students.
McCarthy said, “Marjorie’s important fund-raising efforts created eight new endowments for student support in the past three years, and raised approximately $7 million and nearly another million in bequests during the UMass Rising campaign.” The school exceeded its fiscal 2017 annual development goal of $1 million, receiving approximately $2 million.
As a student at UMass Amherst, Aelion received a Fulbright Advanced Student Award to carry out research in France as a senior undergraduate honors student. She earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983, and a doctorate in environmental chemistry and biology from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health at Chapel Hill in 1988.