University of Georgia

Marsha Davis named dean of UGA College of Public Health

Marsha Davis (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)
Marsha Davis (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

Marsha Davis, a nationally recognized researcher and leader in community-based health promotion programs, has been named dean of the University of Georgia College of Public Health.

Davis, a professor in the department of health promotion and behavior, joined the UGA faculty in 2006 and has served as interim dean since 2018. Her appointment as dean of the College of Public Health was jointly announced by Libby V. Morris, interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, and S. Jack Hu, incoming senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

Morris reflected that “Dr. Davis has an impressive record of advancing instruction, research and public service and outreach. She has the respect of campus administrators and faculty, and I am confident that the College of Public Health will rise in prominence under her outstanding leadership.”

Hu added, “Dr. Davis and I share the belief that public research universities have an enduring obligation to serve society. At the College of Public Health, this encompasses educating the next generation of public health professionals while mobilizing the college’s expertise to improve health through research and outreach.”

Davis has served as the college’s associate dean for outreach and engagement since 2013, where she has been a catalyst for identifying and developing programs that leverage the shared resources of UGA and populations the college serves. In addition, Davis is the founding organizer of the college’s annual State of the Public’s Health Conference and the UGA Public Health Leadership Academy, two programs designed to build the capacity of the public health workforce.

“Dr. Davis has distinguished herself as an exceptional scholar, educator and administrator whose work has made significant contributions to her field and to the public,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I look forward to the leadership she will provide and the initiatives she will lead in the College of Public Health as dean.”

Over the course of her career, Davis has led multiple landmark community-based programs aimed at improving the health of children and their families. While at UGA, Davis has been awarded more than $15 million from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Agriculture to address health issues in Georgia. Her work has contributed to an improvement in health rankings for a number of counties and a significant economic impact for the state. Most recently, Davis’ work in rural Georgia, in collaboration with UGA’s Archway Partnership, led to UGA receiving a national Award of Excellence from the University Economic Development Association.

Davis has received each of her college’s top faculty awards for excellence in research, teaching and service, and in 2014 received the university’s Engaged Scholar Award. She was part of the inaugural cohort of the university’s Women’s Leadership Fellows program in 2015 and, in 2012, was one of the university’s SEC Academic Leadership Development Program Fellows.

“I am excited to lead the college at this time, when public health is needed more than ever,” said Davis. “I look forward to working with our faculty, staff, students, alumni and community partners in our mutual commitment to improve the public’s health in our state, nation and around the globe.”

Prior to joining the UGA faculty, Davis served on the faculty of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She earned an A.B. in psychology and religion from Duke University, a master’s degree in educational psychology from Teacher’s College at Columbia University and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota. At the University of Minnesota, she was a pre- and post-doctoral research fellow in epidemiology, funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.