Professor of nutrition Nancy Cohen is retiring on Sept. 25, after serving as a faculty member at UMass Amherst for the past 35 years. An experienced administrator, Cohen served as head of the department of nutrition from 1998-2007 and 2009-15, and as interim dean of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) twice from September 2007 to December 2008 and again from January to July 2019.
“Dr. Cohen’s enthusiasm, passion, and dedication for nutrition education and higher education administration will be sorely missed,” says Dean Anna Maria Siega-Riz. “She contributed greatly to the success of our School and the department and was a visionary thinker in the field.”
"Long before many of us were at UMass, Dr. Cohen was making her mark," says Elena Carbone, professor and chair of the department of nutrition. "She led the department through growth spurts and lean times. Her passion for and commitment to UMass and the field of nutrition is evident, specifically in the areas of aging research, food safety, and online education. In addition to her many community-based research and outreach contributions and awards, Dr. Cohen was an early adopter and pioneer in online work. In fact, she established the first fully online MPH-nutrition degree program in the country. This is a program that’s still accepting students today!"
Cohen’s extensive university service includes co-chairing the Joint Task Force on Strategic Oversight and serving as a member of the Campus Planning and Resource Committee, Joint Task Force on Resource Allocation and Faculty Senate Rules Committee. As a former Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow and senior planning officer, and in her current role as senior project manager for planning and engagement in the Chancellor’s office, she provided leadership in developing the campus strategic plan and steered the reaccreditation efforts of the university. Cohen also served as assistant vice president for academic affairs at the UMass System office from 2016-17, where she represented the university in three-sector system initiatives, such as the Commonwealth Commitment.
Cohen’s research focuses on nutrition and food safety education, online learning and effectiveness, and community supports for healthy eating. She is the author of approximately 60 peer-reviewed journal publications and book chapters and was principal investigator or co-investigator on 45 grants totaling approximately $6 million. A public-engaged scholar, Cohen has developed scores of fact sheets, online courses, curricula, and lesson plans for consumers, teachers and foodservice staff, along with providing approximately 150 media interviews. Cohen received the UMass President’s Award for Public Service in 2005 and the campus Distinguished Academic Outreach Award in 2003. She was named a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2014.
In national service, Cohen chaired the Association of Nutrition Departments and Programs and is a past member of the board of directors of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior, Massachusetts Dietetic Association and Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Cohen is also a founding member of the statewide Massachusetts Partnership for Food Safety Education and an advisory board member of the Massachusetts Food Policy Council.
Cohen earned a B.S. from Cornell University and her doctorate from the University of California, Davis.