Christine Daley has been appointed as the chair of the newly-established Department of Community and Population Health. The department plans to offer a bachelor of science degree in population health as well as a bachelor of arts degree in community and global health.
The department is the first to be formed within the College of Health, Lehigh’s newest college which was built as part of the Path to Prominence initiative.
Prior to arriving at Lehigh, Daley was a professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC).
Beth Dolan, interim dean of the College of Health, said it is Daley’s extensive experience, both as a professor and researcher, that qualified her for the position.
“The first time I met her, I could tell she was a leader,” Dolan said. “She has ideas and she shares them very openly.”
Dolan commended Daley’s experience with grant writing and continuous funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which she said is crucial for a growing college.
Dolan also said Daley’s experience as a part of an admissions committee at KUMC provided her with the knowledge that is critical for pre-health students at Lehigh who are considering medical school.
Jace Hannah, ‘24, a student in the College of Health, said Daley, who is also her adviser, is well-informed on everything she teaches.
“She has done a lot of background work in her field, and she is probably one of the best-fitted people for this position,” Hannah said.
Dolan echoed this, sharing that reports from Daley’s classes consistently state that she is an “excellent” professor.
“She always has students first in her mind,” Dolan said. “She has this incredible research history and these incredible research chops, but she is always interested in how students are doing. How is the education? What else can we offer them? And that is exactly the kind of chair all of the departments in the College of Health should have. Someone with their eyes on both of those things all of the time.”
Daley said while she loves research, her passion lies in working with students.
Daley also has significant experience working with Indigenous communities. Not only has she been involved with research regarding health outcomes among Indigenous peoples, but she has also worked to help facilitate Indigenous students into undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as internship opportunities.
Daley said that she wants to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion as she often has throughout her career.
“When you start a new college, you have this unique opportunity to entrench some of this into everything that you do,” Daley said. “And I think we are really at a very opportune point to be able to do that.”
Daley also emphasized the immediate need to hire more faculty, so that the College of Health’s educational and research goals can be realized. Currently, the college is expanding in line with the fundraising initiative, GO: The Campaign for Lehigh, which aims to enroll 750 students, as well as hire 60 full-time faculty members, by 2024.
Hannah, who is also a part of the college’s Student Advisory Council, said that she is excited to see how the college develops and subsequently, how her major will evolve.
Daley said she is honored to have received the position.
“It is a humbling idea that I have been selected to take on a new role, to help to create things,” Daley said. “It is something I love doing…And since the beginning of my career, that has been everything I want to do.”