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OHSU-PSU School of Public Health announces interim dean

Rick Johnson will serve as interim dean while the school undertakes a national search for a permanent replacement
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Rick Johnson, Ph.D., will begin serving as interim dean of the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health at the end of June.

OHSU-PSU School of Public Health (SPH) leaders today announced that Rick Johnson, Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs and a professor in the SPH, will serve as interim dean of the school, following the announcement earlier this year that Dean David Bangsberg, M.D., M.P.H. will step down at the end of June. Bangsberg was named founding dean of the SPH in September 2016.

Rick Johnson, Ph.D. (Courtesy) A man with glasses, short gray hair in a white shirt, smiling against a brown background.
Rick Johnson, Ph.D. (Courtesy)

Johnson will lead the school while David Robinson, Ph.D., OHSU interim executive vice president and provost, and Susan Jeffords, Ph.D., Portland State University provost, undertake a national search to find a dean who will serve in a permanent capacity.

“With more than three decades of experience as a faculty member at OHSU, and seven years with the SPH, Dr. Johnson will provide an experienced hand as the national search for a dean unfolds,” Robinson and Jeffords said in a joint statement. “We are grateful for his expertise, support and energy as the leadership of the School undergoes this transition.”

Johnson received his B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Washington, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Oregon Graduate Institute (now part of OHSU). He has been a faculty member at OHSU since 1985, and teaches in the areas of public health relating to climate change, drinking water availability, chemical and transport and transformation in the environment, and restoration of sites contaminated by industrial and other sources. He previously served as the director of the Environmental Systems and Human Health Program in the SPH. His research interests involve forecasting of water quality in rivers to protect drinking water sources, development of diagnostic tools for groundwater restoration, and vulnerability of groundwater sources of drinking water.

Johnson did pioneering work dealing with the behavior of industrial solvents, such as trichloroethylene in groundwater. He also played an early role identifying the impact of the gasoline additive MTBE on drinking water supplies.

“I thank both Interim Provost Robinson and Provost Jeffords for this opportunity, and for their support,” Johnson said. “I look forward to guiding the School of Public Health through this period of transition, and am committed to maintaining the positive environment for our learners built by Dean Bangsberg.”

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