Nisha Botchwey Named the New Dean of the Humphrey School

September 16, 2021
Portrait of Nisha Botchwey
Nisha Botchwey, PhD, will become the next dean of the Humphrey School in January, after nearly a decade as a faculty member and administrator at Georgia Tech.

After an extensive national search, the University of Minnesota has selected Dr. Nisha Botchwey of the Georgia Institute of Technology as the new dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She will begin her new role on January 10, 2022, pending approval by the University’s Board of Regents, expected in October. 

Botchwey is currently associate dean for academic programs at Georgia Tech Professional Education, and a tenured faculty member in its School of City and Regional Planning.

Botchwey succeeds Laura Bloomberg, who assumed a new role as vice president and provost of Cleveland State University on September 1. Interim Dean Catherine Squires will continue to lead the School until Botchwey arrives in January. 

As dean, Botchwey will serve as the chief executive officer and chief academic officer of the Humphrey School, which is ranked among the top 10 schools of public affairs in the country and is widely recognized for its success in advancing the common good through a comprehensive, world-class program. 

“Dr. Botchwey brings to the University extensive experience as a collaborative academic leader and an accomplished researcher and educator working at the intersection of public policy and health,” said University of Minnesota Provost Rachel Croson in announcing Botchwey’s appointment. “As dean of the Humphrey School, Botchwey will provide executive, administrative, and strategic leadership to further advance the excellence of its research, teaching, and public engagement—in fulfillment of the School’s mission to inspire and educate innovative leaders, to find evidence-based transpartisan solutions to important public issues, and to enhance the School’s role as a prominent connector and thought leader for the Twin Cities and Minnesota’s rural and urban communities, as well as regionally, nationally, and globally.”

Botchwey has served as associate dean for academic programs at Georgia Tech Professional Education since 2020. In that role she is responsible for developing academic programs, overseeing all academic offerings and curriculum, and leading outreach and student affairs. She played a key role in leading Georgia Tech’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Botchwey has been on the Georgia Tech faculty since 2012, and is director of the School’s Healthy Places Lab. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Emory University’s School of Public Health. Previously, Botchwey taught at the University of Virginia’s Department of Urban and Environmental Planning from 2003 to 2011.

Commitment to public service

“There are thousands of students trained through public affairs schools every year,” Botchwey said about her appointment. “The Humphrey School plays a significant role in reasserting the time-honored principles and commitments to public service that remain critical today, especially given the environment we find ourselves in as a nation and world. I am honored to join this community as we continue our steady progress to inspire, educate, and support innovative leaders to advance the common good and improve people’s lives and wellbeing here and around the world.”

Squires said she is looking forward to working with Botchwey. 

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Humphrey School, to welcome a highly regarded thought leader in public affairs pedagogy. Nisha has a clear vision in how to advance the School," Squires said. “Her experience with interdisciplinary collaborations will help launch initiatives that take full advantage of the broad range of expertise we have here. She has also made a commitment to working alongside our students, faculty, and staff to bring strong diversity and inclusion advocacy—where everyone can thrive.”

Botchwey's research and teaching have been at the nexus of health policy and the built environment, with a special focus on youth engagement and health equity. Over her career, she has been awarded more than $16 million from leading agencies and foundations as principal investigator or co-PI on more than 30 grant-funded projects.

Botchwey is the co-author of the book Health Impact Assessment in the United States. She is the convener of a national expert panel on interdisciplinary workforce training between the public health and community design fields, and has authored numerous articles, book chapters, scientific presentations, and workshops. 

The impact of Botchwey's public health and social justice work was recognized in 2021 with the prestigious Dale Prize for Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning, and in 2016 by the White House Council on Women and Girls. Botchwey also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Planning Education and Research.

Botchwey earned a master’s degree and PhD in urban planning from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in public health from the University of Virginia, and an AB in environmental science and public policy from Harvard University. 

“Please join me in welcoming Dr. Botchwey to the University of Minnesota,” said Croson. “I am confident that her experience and collaborative leadership will position the School well for the future, building on its legacy and collective strengths.”

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