Cathleen M. Connell, professor of health behavior and health education, will serve as interim dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.

Her appointment, effective Sept. 1, is authorized by Paul N. Courant, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. The appointment will be reported to the Board of Regents at its September meeting.

Cathleen Connell

Connell succeeds Martin Philbert, current dean of the School of Public Health, who will become U-M’s next provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

“Professor Connell has a strong record of achievement in research and teaching and extensive experience in the School of Public Health’s administrative ranks. Her knowledge of the school and her strong relationships with its faculty and students make her ideally suited to serve as interim dean. The school and the university are fortunate to be able to draw upon Professor Connell’s skill and experience during the search for a permanent dean,” Courant said.

Connell’s research focuses on the psychological and social context of health behavior and illness self-management from a lifespan developmental perspective.

“It is an honor to take on the role of interim dean and to steward the School of Public Health through the next year,” said Connell. “Together with the faculty, staff, students and community partners, I look forward to furthering our mission to create a healthier, more equitable world for all.”

Her research interests include dementia family caregiving; knowledge and attitudes about dementia and dementia diagnosis; the role of art, creativity and pets as sources of support for people with dementia; and strategies for scaling up evidence-based interventions for community-dwelling older adults.

Connell joined U-M as an assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education in 1989, and became professor in 2003.

During her time at the university, Connell has served SPH as associate dean of academic affairs from 2001-03, senior associate dean of academic affairs from 2003-04, and the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education’s associate chair in 2013 and chair from 2014-16.

For nearly 20 years, she served as the director of the Education and Information Transfer Core of the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in the Department of Neurology in the Medical School.

From 2005-13, she was the associate director of the Center for Managing Chronic Disease; in 2014 she served as the center’s interim director.

Connell has published more than 80 articles in peer-reviewed publications and contributed eight book chapters.

Since joining the U-M faculty, she has been the principal investigator on 24 research grants including an ongoing project funded by the National Institutes on Aging to adapt and implement an evidence-based heart disease self-management program for older adults in Detroit.

She also has been a co-principal investigator on 17 research grants and delivered more than 100 presentations at conferences nationally and internationally.

Connell has served as an invited reviewer for a number of government and private agencies both in the United States and abroad, including the National Institutes of Health, Alzheimer’s Association, Centers for Disease Control, Administration on Aging and the Singapore National Medical Research Council.

Connell received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Juniata College in Pennsylvania in 1980, and a Master of Science and doctoral degrees in human development and family studies from The Pennsylvania State University in 1983 and 1986, respectively.