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Public Health Reports: In Memoriam of Harrison Spencer

The January/February issue of Public Health Reports features a tribute honoring the late Dr. Harrison C. Spencer, former Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health president and CEO. Ms. Allison Foster, Ms. Rita Kelliher, Mr. Anthony Mazzaschi, and Ms. Karyn Feiden remember their friend and colleague as a true leader, who worked tirelessly on behalf of academic public health. He traveled thousands of miles annually, was responsive to deans, program directors, and partners who asked him to lend his expertise, provide keynote addresses, serve on panels and review boards, and inspire the next generation of public health scholars and practitioners. Dr. Spencer was a humble man who made a significant impact on the lives of countless people. His death is a tremendous loss to ASPPH, to the United States, and the world.

An inspiring leader. A modest man of oversized accomplishments. A visionary with the passion, intellect, and character to move conversation into action. Those are among the encomiums voiced by the colleagues and friends of Dr. Spencer upon his untimely death last August at the age of 71, as they recalled an exceptional life of dedication and a career that stretched from Atlanta to Africa, Geneva to London, San Salvador to New Orleans, and ultimately to Washington, DC.

“Harrison is best described as a problem solver,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “Fifteen minutes with him on a curbside was in many ways worth hours of discussion with other people.”

“It was never about Harrison. It was always about what he was doing in collaboration with others,” said Dr. William Roper, dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “He was the model of a servant leader, dedicated to making things better but not trying to put himself out in front.”

To read the full memoriam, please visit Public Health Reports, In Memoriam: Harrison Spencer, MD, MPH, CPH, 1945-2016.