New dean hired to lead HSC School of Public Health

Dr. Shafik Dharamsi An educator with more than 25 years of transdisciplinary and international teaching, research and leadership experience will join The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth Aug. 15 as the new dean of the School of Public Health.

Dr. Shafik Dharamsi was hired after a national search for a new leader for the HSC School of Public Health. The school’s current dean, Dr. Dennis Thombs, will continue to serve in an administrative role at the university as senior advisor to the provost and dean to ensure an effective transition.

“I look forward to continued success for the School of Public Health through Dr. Dharamsi’s proven leadership and commitment to excellence in education, research, service and public health practice and policy initiatives,” said Dr. Charles Taylor, HSC provost and executive vice president of academic affairs. “He has embodied the values of HSC throughout his distinguished career, and we are excited to reap the benefits of his experience and unique perspective.”

Born in Tanzania, Dharamsi is a first-generation college graduate who began his career as an inner-city schoolteacher. After completing his graduate education, he joined the Aga Khan Development Network as regional director of an early childhood development program in East Africa. He managed more than 200 team members across three countries in complex social, cultural, political and economic environments while also leading major international fundraising initiatives.

“I was deeply inspired by SPH’s commitment to community engagement, health equity and the global mission of public health — efforts that not only align strongly with my background and experience but are also crucial for advancing the types of bold, innovative solutions that come from a deeper understanding of global issues and the public health challenges and opportunities related to globalization,” Dharamsi said.

In 2004, Dharamsi was recruited to the University of British Columbia, where he earned tenure in the Department of Family Medicine. He helped lead the Center for International Health and fostered the development of an interprofessional community engagement and social accountability curriculum within medical and dental education. As research director, he advanced translational and applied research in primary care settings focused on health disparities in underserved communities.

After many years at UBC, Dharamsi accepted an opportunity to serve as the founding associate dean of social accountability, professionalism, and community and global engagement at the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine in San Antonio. He helped establish overall academic operations, led the recruitment of key administrators and guided the formation and oversight of a cross-disciplinary research office.

In 2017, he was recruited to the University of Texas at El Paso, where he spent the next four years serving as dean of the College of Health Sciences and professor of public health. Under his leadership, the college developed a new strategic plan, expanded the Minority Health International Research Training program for students and substantially increased sponsored research awards.

Most recently, Dharamsi served as senior advisor to the provost and visiting professor at New Mexico State University, where he helped advance the formation of the new College of Health, Education and Social Transformation.

He holds a doctoral degree in interdisciplinary studies and a Master of Science in dental science from the University of British Columbia, a Bachelor of Science in dental hygiene from the Medical College of Georgia, and both a Bachelor of Arts in human geography and a Bachelor of Education in teacher education from York University in Canada.

Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams, HSC executive vice president and chief strategy officer, chaired the search committee, that, along with many other stakeholders, worked to vet and interview candidates, as well advising the provost and president on the hiring decision.

“The School of Public Health at HSC offers an exceptional opportunity to serve a transformative global public health mission dedicated to improving the quality and conditions of life in North Texas and beyond,” Dharamsi said.

“I am eager to begin working alongside our diverse campus community and external partners to prepare the 21st-century public health workforce and position SPH as the most welcoming destination for anyone seeking an inclusive, values-driven, high-performing and globally engaged academic community.”

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