USF names dean for public health
By ANITA KUMAR, Times Staff Writer
TAMPA -- The University of South Florida on Monday named a Duke University professor to lead Florida's only College of Public Health.
Laurence Branch, 57, has had a longstanding connection with USF, helping advise the first dean of the college in 1984 and serving as a distinguished lecturer for the Institute on Aging.
Branch said he was interested in moving to Florida because of the state's ecology, elderly residents and ethnically diverse population, among other factors.
"The USF College of Public Health is the most exciting place to be right now," he said.
Branch, who was named after an eight-month search, starts Aug. 29. He will earn $200,000.
"There was a clear consensus that Dr. Branch is the one to lead our College of Public Health as it continues to build its national reputation," said Robert Daugherty, USF vice president for Health Sciences. "He is a wonderful communicator and administrator with a career of demonstrated excellence in research, teaching and service."
Since 1995, Branch has been a research professor of gerontology at Duke's Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, one of five centers for geriatric research established by the U.S. Surgeon General. His research interests include aging, life expectancy, alternatives to institutional care and gerontologic epidemiology.
Branch replaces Charles Mahan, who stepped down last year but remains a full-time faculty member and directs maternal and child health policies at the Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies.
About 650 students are enrolled in the College of Public Health, which has about 91 faculty members and staff. Students graduate with either a master's degree or doctorate in public health.
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