George Q. Daley ’82, a pioneering stem cell researcher and long-serving professor at Harvard Medical School, will lead the school as its next dean, ending a prolonged and at times contested search to fill the position.
Daley will take over from acting dean Barbara J. McNeil starting in January 2017, according to a press release from the University. McNeil has occupied the role since Aug. 1, following the resignation of Jeffrey S. Flier after nine years at the school’s helm.
A Leverett House alumnus, Daley is a professor of biological chemistry, molecular pharmacology, and pediatrics at the Medical School and a prominent stem cell scientist, currently heading the Stem Cell Transplantation Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. After earning a Ph.D. from MIT and M.D. from the Medical School, Daley became a chief resident at Massachusetts General Hospital. He joined the Harvard faculty as an assistant professor in 1995 and became a full professor in 2010.
“George Daley is an eminent scientist, a dedicated educator, an adept bridge-builder, a compelling advocate for scientific discovery, and a person of remarkable leadership qualities and thoughtful judgment,” University President Drew G. Faust said in a press release announcing Daley’s appointment.
Daley’s appointment comes after some Medical and Dental School students decried what they considered a lack of diversity in Longwood, where their campuses are located. In February, around 40 students representing the Racial Justice Coalition student group delivered a petition to Massachusetts Hall, where Faust works, demanding that Harvard select a dean who “has demonstrated a commitment to social justice,” as well as make an effort to interview candidates from “backgrounds underrepresented in medicine.”
Faust and University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 did not explicitly address the concerns of the group in the press release, but offered thanks “to the many people across the Harvard medical community who offered their perspectives and counsel on the deanship.”
During the search process, Faust and Garber solicited suggestions from Medical School affiliates. In February, Faust appointed Michelle A. Williams as the first black dean of a Harvard faculty to lead the School of Public Health.
As dean, Daley will oversee the Medical School as it allocates its portion of the University’s record-breaking $6.5 billion capital campaign; as of April, the Medical School had raised just over 70 percent of its $750 million goal. With $150 million earmarked for educational initiatives, the Medical School rolled out a new curriculum in 2015 based on a “flipped classroom” model.
“I feel humbled by the prospect of leading so talented a community with so essential a mission — a community whose dynamism, growing diversity, and shared concern for the well-being of others are a deep source of strength,” Daley said in the press release.
—Staff writer Daphne C. Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @daphnectho.