Public Health Dean To Step Down

Nine-year veteran points to opportunities for new leader in Allston


Barry R. Bloom, the veteran dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, will step down at the end of this academic year, the University announced yesterday.

Bloom—who has served as dean for nine years, the longest of any of the current deans of Harvard’s 11 schools—said in a phone interview last night that while he was proud of his tenure, it is time for a new leader who can guide the school as it plans to move its campus to Allston. [SEE CORRECTION BELOW]

“What a privilege it has been to be a dean at Harvard University—what an incredible opportunity it has been to work with four extraordinary presidents,” he said.

Bloom, 71, added that the school needs “someone younger and more dynamic,” because “you give up a lot of life in working 24/7 for any institution.”

In his nearly nine years in the post, Bloom, who had made his academic career studying immunology and tropical diseases, worked to further interdisciplinary interaction within the school as well as to expand its reach globally by creating international research projects in Africa, India, and China.

Bloom also stood at the helm as the school made plans to move to Allston. He said that a number of administrative shifts within the University complicated the school’s ability to set time frames for the move.

With the construction of the new science complex, the school will relocate to Allston, where it will have additional space in which to expand. Much of the space at the school’s current Longwood campus is rented.

“Allston would offer the potential to bring the faculty together,” Bloom said.

“The idea for a set of brand new buildings would make it a great place for faculty and students to mix,” he added, noting that this is made difficult by the layout of the present campus.

Bloom cited as the chief accomplishment of his tenure the creation of a case-based curriculum design that he said “could last for 20 years” instead of needing to be changed with every new epidemic.

He added that he also oversaw an expansion of the school’s financial aid program, but that his successor will have to continue to raise funds for student scholarships.

“We’re in very good financial health, such that we’ve been able to take on new initiatives in science programs and increase financial aid for our students in the past few years,” Bloom said.

Students and faculty alike praised Bloom for his transparent leadership style and his accessibility as a dean.

“I’ve always been satisfied and encouraged at how he has addressed and responded to our concerns as students,” said Sean M. Dunbar, president of the School of Public Health’s student government.

Bloom’s announcement is the latest sign that an older generation of Harvard leaders is handing the reins to a new one.

At the start of the last academic year, the university president and the deans of Harvard’s nine faculties had a combined 58 years of experience in their present posts. As of next fall, those 10 officials will have a cumulative 23 years of experience in their posts.

In a letter sent to the school community yesterday, University President Drew G. Faust commended Bloom for his accomplishments over the past nine years.

—Staff writers Aditi Balakrishna, Paras D. Bhayani, and Claire M. Guehenno contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff writer Aditi Balakrishna can be reached

CORRECTION: The original headline for the Nov. 16 news article "Public Health Dean to Step Down" incorrectly stated that School of Public Health Dean Barry R. Bloom would retire. In fact, he is only stepping down from the deanship—he will be named a distinguished service professor and remain a member of the school's faculty. In addition, the article listed the wrong number of Harvard schools. There are 12, not 11.