Interview | Meet Dr Shafik Dharamsi, New Dean of Health Science Center University of North Texas, USA

By Sally Crocker

The HSC School of Public Health recently welcomed new Dean Shafik Dharamsi, PhD.

Dr. Dharamsi brings more than 25 years of transdisciplinary and international teaching, research and leadership experience to his new role. Born in Tanzania, he is a first-generation college graduate with a deep commitment to student success.

Dr. Dharamsi brings more than 25 years of transdisciplinary and international teaching, research and leadership experience to his new role. Born in Tanzania, he is a first-generation college graduate with a deep commitment to student success.

His professional career includes work as Regional Director of an early childhood development program for the Aga Khan Development Network in East Africa, where he led over 200 staff across three countries, fostered consensus in complex social, cultural, political and economic environments, and led major international fundraising initiatives. He later helped lead the University of British Columbia’s Center for International Health, focused on advancing health equity in underserved communities, along with advancing translational and applied research in primary care settings. From there, he was named as founding Associate Dean of Social Accountability, Professionalism and Community and Global Engagement at the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine. He served for four years as Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Professor of Public Health at the University of Texas, El Paso, and before joining HSC in August 2022, was Senior Advisor to the Provost and Visiting Professor at New Mexico State University.

As Dr. Dharamsi settles in with HSC, he shares a little about himself, as well as goals for the future and what led him to the School of Public Health.

Q. Please share a little about yourself:
As a minoritized immigrant, I wasn’t expected to go to college. I was fortunate to have extraordinary teachers who went above and beyond to help students like me succeed. For them, teaching was a calling. My teachers were my role models, and there was nothing more that I wanted in life than to become a teacher (or a soccer player – I was scouted by the Bristol Rovers – and can’t wait for the World Cup to come to Dallas in 2026!).

I was first in my family to attend college and began my career as an inner-city school teacher. I taught in a school like the one I attended – my students struggled daily with socioeconomic, cultural and language barriers. I dedicated my work to creating an inclusive learning environment that fostered hope, confidence and resilience, enabling students to discover that they have a purposeful and impactful place in the world. I also noticed that poor health was adversely affecting their ability to learn, so I went back to school to study ways I could help with these concerns, leading to my graduate, interdisciplinary degrees focused on the intersection of health, education, ethics, ethnography and social epidemiology.

Q. What attracted you to the HSC School of Public Health?
The moment I read the SPH’s mission and statement of commitment, I knew immediately that this was where I would find a strong sense of purpose and belonging. SPH provides an exceptional opportunity to be part of an institution where serving others first is a core value. My career path is heavily influenced by that spirit and ethic of service – giving freely of one’s time and knowledge to help improve the quality and conditions of life in society, particularly among our most vulnerable communities. I was deeply inspired by the SPH’s high-performing, community-engaged, health equity-focused global public health mission – it reflects my life’s work.

Additionally, in contrast to other programs around the country, our students gain extensive practical learning opportunities out in the community so they can hit the ground running once they graduate.

Read full interview at HSC University of North Texas

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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