Melissa Begg, the dean of Columbia School of Social Work, halted a teach-in that sought to justify the disturbing actions of Hamas on October 7, including slaughter, rape, and kidnapping of Israelis. Begg deemed the event “unauthorized” and stated, “CSSW supports free speech but does not endorse language that promotes violence in any form.”

Who is Melissa Begg?

Melissa Begg assumed the role of Dean at the Columbia School of Social Work on September 1, 2019, demonstrating a profound dedication to advancing scientific knowledge for the betterment of society through research, education, practice, and collaborative efforts.

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With a rich background as a population health scientist spanning three decades, Dr. Melissa Begg has consistently prioritized building a robust evidence base for human health and well-being. Her early research concentrated on developing technical methods to assess associations in correlated data, particularly in the context of early life determinants influencing adult health.

Dr. Begg has been a driving force for innovation in graduate health professional education. She played a pivotal role in redesigning the Columbia MPH curriculum, emphasizing interdisciplinary engagement, practical skill development, and leadership training for health professionals across various levels. In collaboration with colleagues in public health and social work, she contributed to the launch of a cultural competency training program for MPH students, co-authoring a manuscript on its outcomes. Notably, she served as Vice Provost for Academic Programs at Columbia University and Co-Director of the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

Throughout her career, Dr. Begg has established and overseen numerous educational and career development programs aimed at fostering success in interdisciplinary team science. She led two NIH-funded training initiatives to enhance diversity: one targeting undergraduates from underrepresented groups to introduce them to careers in population health sciences, and another catering to underrepresented junior faculty, offering guidance on grant writing, career development, and mentorship.

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Recognized for her outstanding contributions, Dr. Begg received the University-wide Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Mailman School Teaching Award from the Graduating Class in 2006. She also earned the ASPPH/Pfizer Award for Teaching Excellence in 2013. Over the past 15 years in academic administration, she has focused on convening interdisciplinary scientific teams, developing innovative curricula, establishing mentorship programs, and promoting diversity in the research workforce.

Dr. Begg holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Fairfield University and a Doctor of Science in Biostatistics from the Harvard School of Public Health.