UNMC College of Public Health dean accepts New York position

Was instrumental in making UNMC's public health program a major asset for the state

Ayman El-Mohandes, M.B.B.Ch., M.D., M.P.H., dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health since 2009, will be leaving UNMC on Aug. 31 to become dean of the School of Public Health at the City University of New York (CUNY).

During his tenure, Dr. El-Mohandes has overseen radical changes in the college. Within two weeks of his arrival, he and the staff submitted an application for accreditation, which was granted within a minimum turnaround time of two years. The accreditation came just five months after the college moved into its new $15 million building that was named for Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D., and his wife, Beverly.

“Ayman has been a transformational leader,” Dr. Maurer said. “He has brought national and international recognition to UNMC, recruited superb faculty, expanded student numbers and research grant support, and has built wonderful relationships in the community.”

Joann Schaefer, M.D., former chief medical officer for the State of Nebraska Division of Public Health and now vice president of medical care and medical management, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, was on the original search committee for Dr. El-Mohandes.

“He had a big job ahead of him launching the college, which included securing faculty and funding, as well as getting accreditation. He did a wonderful job with all of those tasks and Nebraska will benefit for years to come for having such a strong start to the college.”

Internationally known for his expert knowledge of maternal and child health issues, Dr. El-Mohandes said, “I've enjoyed working here. I have built a lot of trust and collaborations. I want to maintain those relationships and continue collaborations with faculty members.

“I am one of the best ambassadors for Nebraska and UNMC. When I was in New York, I spoke passionately about the medical center. I’m thankful for the energy of the people and the successes we’ve had. I don’t think I would have been chosen for this new position if I hadn’t had so much success in Nebraska.”

He called his decision “bittersweet” and “difficult,” but a good one for his family, whom he has lived apart from most of the past four years. His wife, Hala, works in Washington, D.C., in export finance and will transfer to New York City.

In his new position, he will lead a public health school that is firmly rooted in the urban environment. The school is spread throughout four campuses in three of the five boroughs of New York City. With 285,000 students, CUNY is one of the largest urban universities in the world, Dr. El-Mohandes said.

Adi Pour, Ph.D., health director of the Douglas County Health Department, said this is a big loss for Omaha.

“He is a dynamic leader and we will miss him. He brought the college to the next level. He brought in great people from the national level who had expertise we didn’t have before. He partnered with everybody – that’s what I really liked about him. He cemented the relationship between the health department and the college through grant writing and dual appointments. I will miss him deeply."

The chancellor’s office said no decisions have been made on an interim dean or a national search.

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu.



Liz Kumru
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-4691

Tom O'Connor
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-4690 (office)
(402) 650-7063 (cell)