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Dean Craig Blakely retires after a decade of leading SPHIS

Craig Blakely

After 10 years as dean, Craig H. Blakely, PhD, MPH, will retire from the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences on June 30, 2023.

“It has been a tumultuous decade. We have endured a Trump presidency, Breonna Taylor’s murder, a federal investigation of our local police department and related judicial operatives, the pandemic of our lifetimes, and six UofL presidents. Despite all this, SPHIS has retained our resolve to make our community a healthier place,” Dean Blakely said.

SPHIS was the newest and smallest school on UofL’s campus when Dean Blakely arrived in 2013. Although it is still the newest, it is no longer the smallest largely due to his leadership. SPHIS student enrollment has grown over three times what it was when he began his tenure. Our degree and research programs have expanded considerably. SPHIS faculty, staff, students, and alumni have become more engaged in our community and have made contributions to scientific literature, best practices, and policy initiatives, all of which benefits our students as they prepare to become the next generation of public health leaders.

“Craig’s vision was instrumental in transforming our school from an obscure unit to a highly visible school on and off campus,” one colleague noted.

Dr. Blakely’s career in public health spans nearly five decades. Prior to working in higher education, Blakely was a case manager in a juvenile detention home and worked with families of children with behavioral disorders at the Chicago Reed Mental Health Center. He consulted with a state-level Blue-Ribbon Committee that established prenatal care as a basic health service in Michigan. He served as a Principal Investigator on an NSF grant that investigated the salient factors in the dissemination and adoption of social technologies. As a research director, Blakely provided statewide administrative, technical assistance, and evaluation for several health-related projects through the Michigan Department of Public Health, Michigan Community Action Agency Association, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan. He also served as Senior Policy Analyst of SRI International where he led several national research projects in education.

He joined Texas A&M University in 1987 as the associate director of the Public Policy Research Institute with an academic appointment in the Department of Psychology. He served as professor and head of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health from its inception in 1998 to 2007. He was named assistant dean of research from 2001 to 2009 and simultaneously served as associate dean for academic affairs from 2007 to 2009. In 2009, Blakely was named dean for the School of Rural Public Health.

Blakely earned a BS from the University of Illinois, an MA from Southern Illinois University, a doctorate from Michigan State University, and an MPH from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Blakely has researched and published extensively regarding access to care for underserved expectant mothers, juvenile delinquents, substance abuse and rural health. Over the course of his career, he has served as principal investigator for grants totaling more than $13 million. He has been a reviewer for numerous journals and sat on the editorial board of the Journal of Primary Prevention.

Blakely is currently President of the Council on the Education for Public Health (CEPH) Board of Councilors. Recently, he was a member of the U.S. Department of Defense Health Board, the Louisville Metro Board of Health, the Board of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control International Advisory Group, and on the Board of Directors of the National Board of Public Health Examiners.

When asked to share a few words about Dean Blakely, SPHIS faculty described him as student-centered, supportive, and a valued mentor. One faculty member praised his “unwavering commitment to the core public health values of health justice, equity, interdependence, and solidarity in service of reducing health and social disparities in our community.” He is also highly regarded for his advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community and anti-racism work.

Even though his time at SPHIS is coming to a close, Dr. Blakely’s vision will have a lasting effect. In one faculty member’s words, “Dean Blakely’s emphasis on innovative and transdisciplinary research will continue to push SPHIS forward.”

Join us in thanking Dean Blakely for his service and commitment to UofL SPHIS and the field of public health. We encourage him to keep “fighting the good fight” during this next chapter and wish him the best during his retirement and future endeavors.

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