WVU School of Public Health leadership updates

Dr. Jeffrey H. Coben, dean of West Virginia University’s School of Public Health, will step down from the dean position he has held since May 2017, effective Nov. 1. He will remain on faculty with the Schools of Public Health and Medicine and continue to support the operations of the Health Affairs Institute in his role as associate vice president.

“Jeff is one of the most respected public health leaders in the state and across the country, serving not only WVU’s School of Public Health, but also the state in support of the many COVID-19 efforts and as interim secretary for the Department of Health and Human Resources in 2022,” Dr. Clay Marsh, chancellor and executive dean for health sciences, said. “He has been instrumental to the success of the School since its founding in 2012.”

Coben led the School on an interim basis for more than a year beginning in 2013 and again served as interim dean in 2016 prior to assuming the permanent dean role in 2017. He has led the School of Public Health in attaining full accreditation twice, expanding undergraduate and graduate academic programs, fostering new collaborations with local, state and national public health agencies and providing public health expertise to assist the State of West Virginia and the University with navigating a pandemic.

After returning to WVU following his service with the DHHR, Coben’s intention was to step down as dean, but he opted to remain while assisting with the University’s Academic Transformation process.

“I have no doubt that the School of Public Health will grow and thrive in the future, but now is a time for reorganization and for charting new and creative pathways to success,” Coben said. “It is the right time for new leadership to bring fresh ideas, cultivate the ideas of our faculty, staff and students, and to bring those ideas to life.”

Coben continues to act as an advisor on matters related to the impact of WVU programs on health, and serves as a university representative in activities throughout West Virginia that seek to improve public health and healthcare, and reduce healthcare costs.

Since joining WVU in 2004, he has served as director of the Center for Rural Emergency Medicine, director of the Injury Control Research Center, vice chair for research in the School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine, and associate dean for operations in the School of Medicine. He has also directed multiple statewide health improvement initiatives including several Medicaid Transformation grants and the West Virginia State Innovation Model Design award.

Coben is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and completed residency training in emergency medicine and internal medicine at Northwestern University Medical Center. Prior to joining WVU, he founded and directed the Center for Injury Research and Control at the University of Pittsburgh, and served as assistant dean at what is now the Drexel School of Public Health in Philadelphia.

Coben also served on the board of directors of the National Commission Against Drunk Driving, the U.S. Office of Women’s Health Advisory Committee for Violence Against Women, and as senior scholar-in-residence for domestic violence at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Dr. Sarah Woodrum, senior associate dean for administration, and Dr. Erik Carlton, senior associate dean for academic and student affairs, will serve in interim co-roles to lead the operations and academic mission. Marsh will conduct a national search for a new dean.