July 22, 2022

Dr. Elizabeth Mayer-Davis

Dr. Elizabeth Mayer-Davis

Beth Mayer-Davis, PhD, the Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Nutrition and Medicine, has been appointed dean of The Graduate School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, effective September 1.

For the past eight years, Mayer-Davis has served as chair of the nationally recognized Department of Nutrition, jointly located in both the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the UNC School of Medicine.

During that time — in which she also directed the UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center — she prioritized faculty success and helped to create an environment for faculty to thrive. She implemented a mentoring program, established a committee to nominate faculty for academic awards and aligned her colleagues’ professional development interests to their committee service within the department.

“We were fortunate to appoint a veteran administrator from the wealth of talent on our campus to lead this key unit before the new school year begins,” said UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.

Mayer-Davis is an accomplished scholar with an impressive track record of research, teaching and mentoring both faculty and students. She was principal investigator for the Carolina clinical site of the landmark SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study and served for more than 15 years as co-chairperson for this large multi-center study. In addition, she is co-principal investigator for the Carolina clinical site of the Nutrition for Precision Health study.

She has authored more than 300 peer-reviewed publications, secured more than $45 million in active research funding and supervised dozens of graduate students throughout her career. She also is co-director of a National Institutes of Health-funded nutrition training grant for doctoral students. A Carolina faculty member since 2008, she will retain her appointment as Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Nutrition and Medicine.

Mayer-Davis is well versed in faculty governance — she currently is serving a second term on UNC’s Faculty Executive Committee. Outside Carolina, she is active in several professional organizations, including the American Diabetes Association (where she was president for health care and education in 2011). She also has served on the board of directors for the American Society for Nutrition and is a current member of its foundation board.

She was appointed to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee by the secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture and the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and President Obama appointed her to a role on the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health.

Mayer-Davis earned a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from the University of Tennessee, a Master of Science in Public Health from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and a doctorate in epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley.

She will take the helm at The Graduate School during one of the busiest and most exciting times of the year, working with current dean Suzanne Barbour, PhD, to ensure a seamless transition over the coming weeks.

In August, The Graduate School will welcome more than 2,500 new students, who bring with them a diverse range of professional and life experiences. The incoming class will join thousands of other talented students in more than 160 degree-offering programs at Carolina. Many of those programs are consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally — including those in public health, nursing, health sciences, and information and library science.

“The Graduate School has long exemplified Carolina’s rich tradition of teaching, research and public service,” said Chancellor Guskiewicz. “We are confident that under Beth’s leadership, the school will continue this path of excellence and help shape the next generation of leaders.”

At the Gillings School, Vice Dean Robert Smith III, PhD, incoming dean Nancy Messonnier, PhD, and current dean Barbara K. Rimer, PhD, plan to name an interim chair of nutrition by mid-August. A national search for Mayer-Davis’s successor will begin in early fall.

“We congratulate Beth on her appointment and thank her for her outstanding leadership as chair and faculty member,” Rimer said. “We look forward to working closely with her in her new role.”

Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@unc.edu.

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