University of Washington School of Public Health

UW SPH News: Creating Community: Dean Frumkin’s Legacy

Creating Community: Dean Frumkin’s Legacy


When he took over as dean six years ago, Howard Frumkin was struck by how fragmented the School of Public Health appeared to be. “We’re in 20 locations around the city,” Frumkin recalled.


“Those serendipitous meetings you’d like to see between faculty and students just didn’t happen.” Frumkin, who stepped down in September, helped catalyze interest in a new building as a way to unify the School. “It was our great, good luck that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation decided to come forward,” Frumkin said. “I think the building is going to be a game-changer in bringing people together. The UW’s Population Health Initiative will allow our School to play a central role in building collaborations, building teams and tackling big questions.”

Among Frumkin’s other achievements:

  • Establishing a thriving undergraduate program.
  • Creating a sense of the School “as a whole instead of just a collection of component parts.”
  • Improving links with the practice and political community, including bringing a public health lens to issues.
  • Setting SPH on a path toward addressing important and emerging public health challenges, from climate change to obesity.

Frumkin has returned to his role as professor in the department of environmental and occupational health sciences. He plans to take a sabbatical in 2017 at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and then at ISGlobal, the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.

Frumkin was succeeded by Interim Dean Joel Kaufman, UW professor of environmental and occupational health sciences, medicine and epidemiology, and an expert in the relationship between environmental factors and cardiovascular disease. A national search for a permanent dean will begin in summer 2017, with the goal of hiring a new dean by autumn 2018.