School of Public Health Leadership Transition

Dear Colleagues,

Dean John Finnegan has announced his long-considered plan to retire from the University next year after serving as dean of the School of Public Health since 2005 and as a member of the faculty since 1986.

Please join me in extending our deepest appreciation to Dean Finnegan for his leadership of the School of Public Health over the past 16 years (including an initial year as interim dean) and his 34-year University career. I am grateful that the school and University will continue to benefit from his leadership during the current academic year while we launch and complete a national search for his successor, with the aim of having the next dean begin by fall 2021.

Dean Finnegan's vision, commitment, and leadership as dean of SPH have advanced nation-leading educational and research programs to ensure excellence in public health in Minnesota and beyond. During his tenure as dean, the school more than doubled its enrollment and expanded opportunities for students across an array of highly regarded academic programs, including its exemplary Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) program. The school has continued to strengthen its rich research portfolio through multifaceted collaborations addressing the most critical challenges of the state and world. Among many other accomplishments, Dean Finnegan has expanded the school’s global presence in public health through numerous partnerships, and continued to champion innovations in community health promotion, online learning, and interprofessional education that have further distinguished the school, which has maintained its top-10 position among all U.S. schools of public health.

After beginning his professional career as a journalist, Dean Finnegan spent five years collaborating to implement the Minnesota Heart Health Program, an SPH-led community health intervention initiative, before joining the SPH faculty in 1986. His research has focused on health information campaigns and the role of mass media in health behavior and social change. Within SPH, he has led the Epidemiology PhD program, helped shape the Community Health Education (now Community Health Promotion) program, and co-created the SPH Mass Media and Public Health course with the journalism school, in addition to serving as associate dean for academic affairs and research before his appointment as dean. He publishes and presents widely on public health education and has a graduate and adjunct faculty appointment in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Dean Finnegan's leadership also has served the broader University and community in a wide range of roles. He co-leads the UMN President's Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct, which began in 2017, and has chaired the Twin Cities Deans Council, as well as task forces and initiatives related to children and families, academic technology and elearning, public engagement, graduate education, and strategic planning, to name just a few. Beyond the University, he has held leadership roles with Children’s HeartLink, the Minnesota Department of Health Office of Minority and Multicultural Health Advisory Committee, and the World Federation of Academic Institutions of Global Health, among many others.

I look forward to celebrating John’s contributions later in this academic year, and I appreciate his willingness to delay his retirement to continue to lead the school in the coming months while we complete a national search for his successor.

Please join me again in thanking Dean John Finnegan for his leadership, service, and impact.

Sincerely yours,

Rachel T.A. Croson
Executive Vice President and Provost

email sent to the systemwide administrative e-mail list (AEL) on September 30, 2020