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Meet Claire Sterk, Emory's 20th President

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Photo by Ann Borden

Claire Sterk, former Emory provost, took the helm of the university this fall, becoming its first female president.

Sterk has been a member of the Emory community since 1995, when she was appointed to the faculty of the Rollins School of Public Health. She has served as the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Public Health, chair of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, associate dean for research, and senior vice provost for academic affairs. She was named provost and executive vice president for academic affairs in 2013.

On September 1, she succeeded James Wagner, who retired after 13 years as president.

"Claire Sterk is a confident leader, an accomplished academic administrator, and a respected researcher," says John Morgan, chair of the Emory Board of Trustees and of the presidential selection committee. "She has a sophisticated knowledge and understanding of Emory and is passionate about leveraging Emory’s considerable strengths and assets to enhance its global reputation and reach."

Sterk is a native of the Netherlands, where she earned her PhD in sociology from Erasmus University in Rotterdam and her doctorandus degree in medical anthropology from the University of Utrecht. She is an international leader in the fields of public health and anthropology.

"She understands both the challenges and opportunities that exist for our health sciences schools and centers and for Emory Healthcare." — Jon Lewin, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Executive Director of Woodruff Health Sciences Center, CEO of Emory Healthcare

At Emory, Sterk has held faculty appointments in anthropology, sociology, and women, gender, and sexuality studies, in addition to public health. Her primary research interests are addiction, mental health, and HIV/AIDS, with a focus on community-based interventions. She has held several professional leadership positions, including president of the Alcohol, Drug, and Tobacco section of the American Sociological Association and board member of the Society for Applied Anthropology.

"One of the treasures of Emory is to have the academic health center, which allows for training opportunities for students and for discovery and advances in health and healing," Sterk says. "Our academic health center cares for those who are ill, fosters prevention and wellness, and engages in groundbreaking research that improves the lives of people around the world."

Stuart Zola, former director of Yerkes National Primate Research Center, has been appointed interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.


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