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Sterk wins 2020 Hatcher Award

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Dr. Claire E. Sterk, president of Emory University, has been named the 2020 recipient of the Charles R. Hatcher Jr. MD Award for Excellence in Public Health.

A native of the Netherlands, Sterk earned a PhD in sociology from Erasmus University in Rotterdam and a doctorandus degree in medical anthropology from the University of Utrecht. She came to the United States in the 1980s and became a visiting scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she worked on HIV/AIDS.

Sterk joined Rollins in 1995, with primary research interests in addiction, mental health, and HIV/AIDS. She went on to serve as the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Public Health, chair of the Department of Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences, and associate dean for research. Her research support from the National Institutes of Health totaled $35 million and she authored well over 100 academic publications. Her book, Fast Lives: Women Who Use Crack Cocaine, describes the impact of the cocaine epidemic on women’s lives, their families, and community.

She went on, in 2005, to serve the university as senior vice provost for academic affairs. She became provost and executive vice president for academic affairs in 2013. In this role, she oversaw the implementation of the university’s 2005–2015 strategic plan, achieved reaffirmation of Emory’s accreditation, and spearheaded faculty development.

Sterk became Emory’s first female president in 2016. During her tenure, she guided the annexation of Emory into the city of Atlanta, appointed the university’s first vice provost for diversity and inclusion, and created an ombuds office.

The university’s research funding grew to $689 million during her four years, and Emory has been named Atlanta’s largest employer.

“President Sterk has done a remarkable job during her time at the helm of the university,” says Dean James Curran. “And we are thrilled that, even as she steps down from that post, she will remain with Emory and with Rollins. She is returning to her passion, which is and has always been public health.”

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