Jump to main content

Welcoming three new deans in Humanities, Business and Public Health

James Doerner

Jim Doerner, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Photo by Woody Myers. 

Debbie Farris
November 27, 2023

Fall semester marks a new beginning for leadership in three colleges at UNC. These three new leaders will shape the culture of their colleges and bring tremendous scholarship, organizational leadership and administrative excellence to build strong external relations and champion student success.  

Longtime Geography professor, teacher and scholar at the university for more than 30 years, Jim Doerner, Ph.D., is the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) after serving as interim dean last year. Veteran dean, Ken Colwell, Ph.D., who joins UNC from the University of Houston-Victoria, is the dean of the Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business. Cathy J. Bradley, Ph.D., MPA, is the Dean of the Colorado School of Public Health and the deputy director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center. The accredited, collaborative school of public health includes programs and dedicated faculty at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Colorado State University and UNC, where it is part of the College of Natural and Health Sciences.  

 Dean Doerner  

“Historically, the humanities and social sciences were about the role of humans, how humans interact in the world,” said Jim Doerner.   

“Social scientists bring in problem-solving abilities, asking the right questions, analyzing data for some of the big societal issues we are facing and that they can address. Then you have people trained in the humanities, and what they bring to the table also addresses societal needs. I think that is the basis for going forward.”    

Doerner is the first new dean at HSS in eight years. His vision for the college is imbued with a need to address the current, growing speculation about the role and need for the humanities and social sciences in the 21st century.    

A tireless champion of students, Doerner is committed to helping them find their passion and place. He says HSS is currently a “college of discovery” as students find their purpose while taking courses in the college and they get hooked. In the future, he would like HSS to become a “college of destination.”  

Ken Colwell

Ken Colwell, Ph.D., Dean of the Monfort College of Business. Photo by Woody Myers.

Dean Colwell 

Ken Colwell brings 35 years of experience in industry and academia — including nearly 10 years as a dean — to his new role at Monfort College of Business. Since his arrival to campus, he has been doing a great deal of listening and learning from faculty, staff, students, alumni and the UNC community as he shapes his vision for the college of business.   

Colwell was attracted to UNC’s status as an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), having served as dean at three HSIs and Minority Serving Institutions (MSI). With time spent at both private and public universities, Colwell prefers regional public universities where he feels he can really make an impact on students’ lives.   

“MCB will be a business school to watch,” said Colwell. “Thanks to the tremendous investment and generosity of UNC donors, we are developing the resources to bring to bear on student success, career services, study abroad and more. That puts us head and shoulders above other business colleges.”  

Cathy Bradley

Cathy J. Bradley, Ph.D., MPA, Dean of the Colorado School of Public Health and the Deputy Director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Photo by Justin Levett 

Dean Bradley  

Cathy Bradley is the Colorado School of Public Health’s fourth dean since its founding in 2008, and its first permanent female dean. She is a health economist and holds the Paul A. Bunn, Jr. Endowed Chair in Cancer Research. Previously, she was the founding chair of the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.   

Responding to climate change, developing large-scale solutions to the mental health crisis and promoting the positive influence public health plays in making communities stronger and more resilient are three of the first research and education goals for Dean Bradley.   

 “I want to help improve health and health care access for everyone, not just one person at a time,” said Bradley. “We can reach the most lives through policy, health care delivery and making changes to prevent diseases from ever occurring.”   

 A first-generation college graduate, Bradley developed a passion for public health and health policy while earning her earned a Master of Public Administration and a doctorate in Health Policy and Administration at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.