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Deborah Prothrow-Stith, the former Massachusetts commissioner of public health, has been named an assistant dean at the School of Public Health, University officials announced yesterday.
Prothrow-Stith, filling a newly created post, will be in charge of seeking volunteer and research opportunities for students and faculty in government and community programs. The new dean said in an interview yesterday that she will also work to develop better health education programs in public schools.
"She's going to link our school with public and governmental agencies," said Robert J. Blendon, a professor of health policy and management at the School of Public Health. "I think she's going to make our efforts there very visible."
Blendon, who was involved in hiring Prothrow-Stith, said she was chosen for her commitment and pioneering work in the field of public health, as well as her skill as a public speaker and educator.
"She emphasizes the need to bring political and professional skills together in a world where media bites often shape public reactions," Blendon said. "She's a master at meeting controversial and difficult health problems."
Prothrow-Stith said yesterday that she is "very excited" about the appointment, adding that she has been eager for some time to get back into working with issues of public health. After she left the State House in 1989, Prothrow-Stith worked for eight months in the private sector, as the vice president and medical director for Community Care Systems, Inc.
In recent years Prothrow-Stith has focused her attention on universal health insurance and elementary school public health programs, two areas whichshe said she would like to explore in her newposition.
Her most acclaimed work has been in the area ofviolence, which she has maintained should beexamined as a public health issue.
In addition, Prothrow-Stith said she lookedforward to using her contacts to help the Schoolof Public Health build a better name for itself inthe private and governmental health sectors. Shesaid she would like to see "a real public andprivate partnership" evolve.
The school is especially pleased withProthrow-Stith's appointment because it "is shortof people with senior government experience thatwould be role models for our students," Blendonsaid.
He said that he approached Prothrow-Stith inJune about filling the new position, after hearingthat the former commissioner was looking to returnto the area of public health. Prothrow-Smith beganworking at her new post in July, she said.
A graduate of Harvard Medical School, the newassistant dean also served on the faculty ofBoston University Medical School
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