Leadership Statement

Announcing Leadership Transition at Colorado School of Public Health, 6-8-22

Dear students, faculty and staff,

We write to share the news that Colorado School of Public Health Dean Jonathan Samet, MD, MS, has announced his intention to step away from his role as dean. He will continue as a member of the ColoradoSPH faculty, focusing on his ongoing work in Colorado with epidemic modeling and cannabis' harms and benefits, and on environmental health issues nationally and internationally. Dr. Samet will hold his current role for the duration of our national search for his successor, and we are pleased that he will remain a member of our faculty as he embarks on the next chapter of his distinguished career. 

We have been fortunate to have such an outstanding leader and treasured colleague at the helm of our state's highly respected school of public health. Along with our ColoradoSPH partners ‒ Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado ‒ we thank Dr. Samet for his tireless service and look forward to working with him in his role as a faculty member. 

Dr. Samet joined us in October 2017 as the third dean of ColoradoSPH at a critical juncture in its growth as one of the only tri-institutional public health schools in the country. In joining the school on the eve of its 10-year anniversary, he brought broad and deep experience, strong relationships and fresh ideas for helping the school build on a decade of forward momentum. 

Throughout his leadership as the school’s longest-serving dean, ColoradoSPH grew in essential areas, advancing to the top 20 graduate schools of public health in the country by U.S. News & World Report and growing research to over $31 million annually. Under Dr. Samet’s watch, the school doubled federal research funding between 2020 and 2021 alone, rising in NIH funding rankings to the top 20 in public health. 

Dr. Samet has overseen more than 150 full-time faculty, over 600 degree-seeking students and 15 centers and programs across the three university campuses, while also laying out an ambitious 5-year strategic plan to guide the school through pivotal years of its continued evolution. 

Over the course of his tenure, Dr. Samet has done a tremendous job of capitalizing on ColoradoSPH’s many areas of expertise, including diabetes, health promotion and policy, worker health, injury and disease prevention, and mental and behavioral health. He has also leveraged the strengths of our three-university model to uncover opportunities and forge connections in new and emerging areas like big data and bioinformatics. His thoughtful leadership has fostered a culture of collaboration within ColoradoSPH, and attracted talented faculty members and bright students to join its ranks. 

In all areas of the school's mission, Dr. Samet has made equity, diversity and inclusion a key focus. He wove equity-related goals throughout the school’s strategic plan and named Cerise Hunt, PhD, MSW, the school’s first associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion in 2020. Dr. Samet has also built robust philanthropic partnerships and bolstered support for the school’s programs, centers and scholarship funds.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he has led the state’s modeling efforts, serving as a trusted advisor to Governor Jared Polis in close collaboration with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and local public health agencies to help navigate our state through uncharted territory. Dr. Samet has also been of invaluable help to our campus leadership team as we have worked to set and sustain a high bar for campus health and safety. 

Dr. Samet has done much to elevate the visibility of public health in our state and beyond, and he leaves the school in good stead for the future. We will benefit from the legacy he built as dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, and from the many leaders in public health whom he continues to mentor, train and inspire. 

We will launch a national search for the next dean of the Colorado School of Public Health immediately, in partnership with our colleagues at CSU and UNC. Consistent with his leadership style, Dr. Samet’s announcement gives us ample time to ensure a successful transition to his successor. 

Please join us in thanking Dr. Samet for his visionary leadership and countless contributions to our university, our partners and our state in his role as dean. We will share plans for an event to thank Dr. Samet in person once finalized.


Don Elliman

Roderick Nairn
Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs

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