Erin Bell Named Dean of New College Joining the Schools of Public Health, Social Welfare

Erin Bell stands outdoors in front of a hedge, wearing a pink jacket and glasses
Erin Bell has accepted a three-year appointment as dean of the new college. (Photos by Patrick Dodson)

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 11, 2024) — Erin Bell, a professor of epidemiology, biostatistics and environmental health, has been named dean of the University’s new college that will encompass the School of Public Health and School of Social Welfare.

Bell, who has served as interim dean of the School of Public Health for the past year, has accepted a three-year appointment as dean of the new college, effective July 1, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol Kim announced Monday.

a smiling women in glasses and a white sweater sits at a desk in an office
Victoria Rizzo

The provost also announced that Victoria Rizzo, now interim dean of the School of Social Welfare, will be named senior vice dean and director of the School of Social Welfare within the new college, effective July 1, and will report to Bell. 

Kim thanked all those who participated in the nationwide search for a dean, which resulted in five candidates visiting the University in April. “While there was much to recommend the external candidates, it was ultimately determined that these internal appointments will best serve the new college and its promising future,” she said.

Bell was appointed interim dean of SPH in July 2023, and quickly assumed a guiding role in shaping plans for the new college and supporting faculty and staff. Her prior leadership roles include interim assistant vice president for research compliance, faculty director for the Undergraduate Public Health program, associate dean for research at SPH, and a member of the executive committee of UAlbany’s Center for Social and Demographic Analysis. A professor in the departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Environmental Health Sciences, Bell’s research has enhanced understanding of how environmental exposures impact health outcomes in adults and children. She has longstanding relationships with the New York State Department of Health, the Ezra Prentice neighborhood in the City of Albany, and the National Academy of Medicine’s Committee on Guidance on PFAS Testing and Health Outcomes. 

Rizzo was named interim dean of the School of Social Welfare in 2022 and has worked to enhance the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs to prepare social work students for the workforce. A professor of social welfare, she has done extensive research examining the impact of social work on health care utilization, health and behavioral health outcomes for older adults coping with chronic illnesses, elder abuse and caregiving. She is the president of the National Association of Social Workers’ New York State Chapter and a distinguished scholar and fellow of the National Academies of Practice (Social Work Academy) and the New York Academy of Medicine.

“Together, these colleagues have displayed strong leadership and thoughtful understanding as we work to create the new college that will unite the two schools,” Kim said. “I am grateful for their insight and excellent work.”