August 12, 2016
Harrison C. Spencer, MD, MPH, president and chief executive officer of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, died Aug. 10, a victim of violence. He was 71.
Dr. Spencer earned a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University, a Master of Public Health in epidemiology from the University of California at Berkeley, and a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene from the University of London.
He served as an epidemic intelligence service officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in CDC medical officer positions in San Salvador and Atlanta before taking on leadership roles at University of Nairobi, the World Health Organization, and as chief of the parasitic diseases branch at CDC.
He led two schools of public health as dean – the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (New Orleans) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (London). He assumed the role of president and chief executive officer of the Association of Schools of Public Health in 2000, and in 2013, led the organization’s transformation as the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.
In an Aug. 12 announcement of his death, his ASPPH colleagues wrote, “His intellect, passion, leadership and compelling ethical values were treasured by all in the ASPPH community.”
“Harrison was an ardent champion of public health — and all of us in the profession,” said Gillings School of Global Public Health dean Barbara K. Rimer. “He came to Chapel Hill when our School celebrated our naming in 2008, and he always came to our receptions at APHA, as he did for all other schools.”
Rimer said Dr. Spencer’s death was a huge loss for all schools and programs of public health.
“That he was killed violently is unimaginable, as he was so gentle in his persona and personally opposed to violence,” Rimer said. “He was a highly accomplished physician and epidemiologist who led two schools of public health before taking the leadership role at ASPPH. It was he, above all, who successfully navigated the challenges of bringing the schools and programs of public health together — a brilliant move. Our thoughts are with Christine, his wife of more than 40 years, and with the wonderful staff of ASPPH, who mourn him, as do we.”