Co-Interim Deans Edmond and Reis Take the Reins

Faculty; Public Health; Social Work

The new year is starting out strong at the Brown School. Tonya Edmond and Rodrigo Reis have stepped into their new roles as interim co-deans, a new leadership model for the institution.

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Beverly Wendland decided to appoint interim co-deans for several reasons. First, the Brown School has experienced unprecedented growth during Mary McKay’s tenure as dean. For example, the number of full-time faculty has doubled, representing a diverse set of backgrounds, disciplines and methodologies. An interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research has always been a strength of the Brown School.

In addition, external funding for Brown School faculty research has doubled and is on a course to triple in the near future. The incoming resources have allowed the school to expand research staff and created the need for additional administrative and financial staff to manage a large number of research projects and initiatives.

There has been strong student demand for the social work, public health, and social policy graduate and doctoral programs. As a result, the curriculum is being expanded and innovated, and student practicum opportunities grow exponentially. At this moment, leading the Brown School requires experienced and diverse leadership that Edmond and Reis can provide.

The new leadership model is welcomed by Edmond and Reis, who have already been working side by side in their previous roles as associate deans of the social work and public health programs, respectively. Edmond elaborated, “This collaborative approach is actually something we enjoy and see as a strength for the Brown School. We have a significant amount of experience working together as associate deans and as members of several Brown School committees, including the executive committee of the strategic plan.”

Both the school of social work and program of public health are among the highest-ranked in the country. Edmond will take the lead on social work and social policy decisions, and Reis will do the same for public health. The co-leadership model capitalizes on the expertise of Edmond and Reis in their respective fields and their work will be done in tandem to reinforce the strength of the Brown School’s transdisciplinary approach. Reis shared, “The public health crisis over the last couple of years has required us to coordinate on sensitive and critical issues so that we can support all our students and ensure the continued smooth operations of the academic programs. We are a solid duo, and I have always enjoyed our partnership.”

Edmond and Reis will lead the school for 18 months when a new dean is appointed for the 2023 academic year. The search will begin in September 2022, allowing the Board of Trustees to approve the forthcoming university-wide 10-year strategic plan. This step is critical because the plan will ultimately inform the qualifications needed for the next dean of the Brown School.

Provost Wendland shared, “I am so pleased that Tonya Edmond and Rodrigo Reis have agreed to take on these positions. We thought it was important to have representation of the interdisciplinary educational and research programs of the Brown School. As a team, they will be in the best position possible to advance the work of the school.”

Chancellor Andrew D. Martin stated, “The Brown School is poised to continue setting the standard under the guidance of Interim Co-Deans Edmond and Reis.”