Deans of the UW School of Public Health

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50-year history of the School, 1970-2020


J. Thomas Grayston 1970 — 1972

In founding our School of Public Health in 1970, Emeritus Dean Dr. J. Thomas Grayston laid the foundation for half a century of leadership, building a towering legacy in public health education, research and community engagement. He was recruited to the UW School of Medicine in 1960 to chair the Department of Preventive Medicine, and grew it from four faculty to 40 by the time SPH was launched.


Robert Day 1972 — 1982 

"As the second Dean of the School of Public Health, Dr. Day played an essential role in broadening the School's educational and service activities to encompass more traditional public health programs. He was an excellent and successful administrator," said former Dean Grayston. Added former Dean Frumkin: "Throughout his life he was dedicated to advancing health and well-being, through both clinical medicine and public health, in the lab, the bedside, and the community.  His passions ranged from cancer treatment and prevention to fighting the opioid crisis. He set the UW School of Public Health on the path to excellence."


Gil Omenn 1982 — 1997

Dr. Omenn was the School’s third dean, serving from 1982 to 1997. Dr. Day recruited Dr. Omenn to the University of Washington to be chair of environmental health, in addition to professor of medicine. Two early initiatives he helped launch included the Cancer Prevention Research Unit with Fred Hutch and the CDC-sponsored Health Promotion Research Center with the Seattle/King County Housing Authority. Later, Dr. Omenn helped develop the Institute for Public Health Genetics as a presidential initiative with participation from multiple UW units, including the School of Law and College of Arts & Sciences.


Pat Wahl 1999 — 2010

Patricia Wahl was professor of Biostatistics and an early graduate of the the School, earning her PhD in 1971. She was the School's fourth dean and first woman to have held the position. Dr. Wahl laid the foundations for a thriving undergraduate degree program in public health and established the Department of Global Health with the School of Medicine. The MS in Nutritional Sciences moved from the Graduate School to SPH under her leadership, while Pathobiology was moved from a department to a program within DGH. She famously visited 33 health departments across the state and created a public health practice pathway for faculty.


Howard Frumkin 2010 — 2016

Dean Frumkin joined the School in 2010, in the middle of the Great Recession, one of the most difficult periods in higher education. Struck by the siloed nature of SPH, then located in more than 20 different places, he worked to create a sense of the School "as a whole instead of just a collection of component parts." He helped catalyze interest in a new building, improved links with the practice and political community, and set SPH on a path toward addressing important and emerging public health challenges, from climate change to obesity.


Joel Kaufman 2016 — 2018

Professor Joel Kaufman was named interim dean of the UW School of Public Health, in 2016. A long-time faculty member and researcher, Kaufman is an internationally recognized expert in the relationship between environmental factors and cardiovascular disease, and in the health effects of exposure to ambient air pollutants. He is editor-in-chief of Environmental Health Perspectives, a leading journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. He hired the School's first Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and launched a successful process to re-envision the School's MPH core curriculum. 


Hilary Godwin 2018

Hilary Godwin, a nationally recognized teacher, leader and researcher, became the 6th dean of the School of Public Health in 2018. A former professor and administrator at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Dean Godwin will oversee implementation of a new strategic plan that will set the UW School of Public Health on a path for the next 50 years: promoting good health for all, breaking down structures of racism, continuing rigorous science, and training the next generation of collaborative and diverse leaders who go on to drive transformational change.