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Top Harvard School of Public Health Administrator Grusby To Step Down from Three Posts

Harvard School of Public Health professor Michael J. Grusby will step down from the three top administrative posts he holds.
Harvard School of Public Health professor Michael J. Grusby will step down from the three top administrative posts he holds. By Megan M. Ross
By Camille G. Caldera, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard School of Public Health professor Michael J. Grusby will step down from the three top administrative posts he holds at the school this month, Dean Michelle A. Williams announced in an email to School of Public Health affiliates Friday.

Grusby currently serves as the Executive Dean for Administration, acting dean for academic Affairs, and Senior Vice Dean for Institutional Planning and Policy. His departure from all three roles comes after a Crimson investigation last month found that faculty repeatedly weighed voting no confidence in Williams, citing a toxic culture perpetuated by her and Grusby.

Grusby will take a sabbatical starting this month, according to Williams’s email. He remains a professor of molecular immunology at the school.

Professor of Health Decision Science Jane J. Kim will take over permanently as Dean of Academic Affairs, effective Monday, per the announcement. Kim has served as a co-chair of the Faculty Council and of the Committee on the Advancement of Women Faculty. She has also been a member of the school’s Committee on Education Policy and the steering committee of the Zhu Family Center for Global Cancer Prevention.

Katherine A. “Katie” Hope — the school’s chief financial officer since 2011 — will fill the role of Executive Dean for Administration.

The announcement makes no mention of a new Senior Vice Dean for Institutional Planning and Policy — a position created under Williams’s deanship.

In February 2018, Williams announced that Grusby would serve as acting Dean for Academic Affairs in an “interim period” as she sought a permanent dean. He served in the role for nearly two years.

In his three administrative roles, Grusby concurrently managed finances, administrative offices like human resources, and academic affairs. Some senior faculty said they found his large portfolio concerning because they believe the role of the academic dean should be to serve as a check and balance to the school’s dean on behalf of the faculty.

Additionally, current and former faculty, staff, and administrators told The Crimson that they did not feel comfortable bringing complaints to human resources because Grusby oversaw it, and that they had broader concerns about his treatment of faculty and staff, which they perceived as demeaning and disrespectful.

In November 2019, a group of nine anonymous junior faculty emailed a letter to former University of Michigan Public Health Dean Kenneth E. Warner, who chairs the Harvard School of Public Health’s visiting committee, expressing concerns about Grusby’s behavior, management style, and “large amounts of power.”

They added that they believed a vote of no confidence in Williams — who they said had failed to address perceived issues — may have been the “only recourse” to address their concerns.

In her email to affiliates, Williams praised Grusby’s “significant contributions to the leadership of the Dean’s office,” citing “multimillion dollar cost savings” he brought about by reducing compliance risks, his launch of the “groundbreaking” Apple Women’s Health Study, and his efforts to reduce food insecurity among School of Public Health affiliates.

“Michael has been a valued colleague, offering knowledgeable insights, wise counsel, and successful, effective implementation strategies as we support and advance Harvard Chan’s research, teaching, and communication,” Williams wrote.

—Staff writer Camille G. Caldera can be reached at camille.caldera@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @camille_caldera.

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Citing Toxic Culture and Administrator Departures, Harvard School of Public Health Faculty Repeatedly Weighed Voting No Confidence in Dean