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Nancy Persily Remembered

November 17, 2008

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Nancy Persily

Nancy Persily was associate dean of UAlbany's School of Public Health. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

Brenda Kirkwood has a vivid memory of what a passionate, dedicated, and compassionate person Nancy Alfred Persily was.

Persily, who passed away in March from metastatic breast cancer, was associate dean and assistant provost for Health Affairs at UAlbany's School of Public Health from 2002-2006. Kirkwood worked closely with Persily at the school, moving on to a new position in Washington, D.C., this past summer.

"She had an innate ability to teach others and generate excitement," recalled Kirkwood. One of Persily's final accomplishments was to create an undergraduate public health program at UAlbany, an initiative that was important to her because of her efforts to promote a well-trained public health care workforce.

Dean Philip C. Nasca said Persily was "a respected colleague, mentor, and friend to all of us in the school."

Persily earned an M.P.H. from Yale and went on to dedicate her life to public health.

Persily's energy, intellect, and sheer passion for life contributed to her efforts to strengthen the overall culture of UAlbany's School of Public Health, including student interest and involvement. She expanded academic offerings and increased the school's visibility across the state.

"As a woman in a male-dominated environment, she challenged the process, paving the way for other women," Kirkwood said. "Her sincere enthusiasm and unending energy inspired a shared vision among her colleagues and students, and she would bring out the requisite skills and abilities to enable others to act."

Kirkwood said Persily was a role model for leadership in public health and a "true mentor" to many.

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