February 2, 2022

Dr. Robert Smith III

Dr. Robert Smith III

Robert Smith III, PhD, associate chair for administration in the Department of Neurology at the UNC School of Medicine, has been named vice dean of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, beginning Feb. 28.

During his 10 years at the School of Medicine, he has been the senior administrator in the chair’s office focused on policy development and implementation, including financial planning and management, strategic planning, human resources management, and information systems design and delivery. Many of these areas will fall under his responsibility at the Gillings School.

“We look forward to drawing on Robert’s deep knowledge and rich experience at Carolina and his commitment to public health,” said Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, MPH, Alumni Distinguished Professor and dean of the Gillings School. “The leadership team will be greatly enhanced by his presence. His academic training and broad administrative experience at the School of Medicine will be a boon to Gillings.”

Smith’s commitment to public health goes back to his childhood, where, as a young man, he earned the nickname “Doc.”

“To this day, I get calls from family members asking for my help with diagnoses or advice around issues of public health, even before COVID-19,” Smith said. “As I look at the work that lies ahead of us to fulfill the Gillings School’s mission, it will be important to preserve our core while embracing our future. The world has changed so much in the past two years, but the response from Gillings has been amazing. I marvel at the life-changing research coming from our faculty, our brilliant and diverse students and our committed staff who continue to work tirelessly in the face of so much change.”

Prior to joining UNC-Chapel Hill, Smith was the director of human resources consulting at the University of Virginia. Before that, he held the role of chief administrative officer at the University of Virginia in the department of pediatrics, where he previously held the same post in obstetrics and gynecology.

Smith joins the Gillings School at a moment of transition – when the pandemic has changed many assumptions about work and the role of public health in society. Old learning and operational habits are being examined, and Smith brings his experience with the “Future of Work” from his time at the School of Medicine.

Through a commitment to inclusive excellence, the Gillings community has helped to usher in the most diverse class of students in the School’s history – yet there is still work to be done with enrollment and hiring.

“Good people stay in good places,” Smith observed. “And a big part of my job will be to continue to make Gillings a ‘good place.’”

Smith began collaborating with the Gillings School in 2012 when he delivered his first guest lecture on ethics in the Department of Health Policy and Management. He has worked closely with second-year Master of Healthcare Administration students to place them in internships within the School of Medicine that allow them to gain practical experience in a hospital setting.

Outside of work, Smith has been an avid cyclist since his time as a member of the Piedmont Flyers cycling team.

“My love for Gillings goes back a long way, and there’s a reason why we’re the top public school of public health,” he said. “I want to help preserve all that makes us great while still looking toward the future.”

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

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