Phillip L. Williams, PhD, CIH

Founding Dean, College of Public Health, University of Georgia


Dean Phillip L. Williams Endowment Fund

To honor Dr. Phillip William’s legacy as founding dean, the UGA College of Public has created a fund that will be used to establish a Distinguished Professorship in his name.
Please join us in celebrating his achievements by making a contribution.

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Dr. Phillip L. Williams is the founding dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia. He served as a UGA faculty member for more than 25 years, holding the Georgia Power Professorship in Environmental Health in the college’s Department of Environmental Health Science from 2001 until the present.  From 2001 to 2004, he chaired the university-wide committee that led to the College’s creation in 2005, served as interim dean from 2005 to 2007, and became permanent dean in 2007 following a national search.

Under Dr. Williams’ leadership, the College was awarded full accreditation in June 2009 and was reaccredited for seven more years in 2014; quadrupled its initial enrollment to more a total of more than 1,000 current students; graduated more than 2,300 doctoral, master’s and undergraduate students; and established seven of the College’s eight units at the UGA Health Sciences Campus located at the former U.S. Naval Supply Corp School site. In addition, the College is ranked third at UGA in generating indirect costs from external grants and fourth in total grant production.

During Dean William’s tenure, the College also:

  • grew from a total of 12 faculty and staff members to over 200;
  • established many new degree programs, minors, and certificate programs, including a Master of Public Health (MPH) program with seven different possible concentrations, an M.S. in biostatistics, Ph.D. programs in epidemiology, biostatistics, and environmental health, a Doctorate of Public Health (DrPH) program in leadership, and numerous joint degree programs in partnership with other units at UGA;
  • established nine endowed professorships, three distinguished graduate assistantships, and additional college support funds for a total endowment of $4.9 million;
  • became the principal occupant at the UGA Health Sciences Campus and a contributor to the ongoing development of the Prince Avenue Health Corridor; and
  • established two new departments – Epidemiology & Biostatistics and Health Policy & Management – and three new interdisciplinary institutes in Global Health, Disaster Management, and Health Informatics. The College today consists of eight core units, including the pre-existing departments of Environmental Health Science and Health Promotion & Behavior, and the Institute of Gerontology.

Dr. Williams has also served on a number of boards including the State of Georgia Board of Public Health, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Childhood Obesity, the governing board of the Council for Education in Public Health (CEPH), and the Board of Scientific Counselors for CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. In 2010, he served as chairman of the Georgia Public Health Commission, which fostered the creation of the Georgia Department of Public Health in 2011. He will serve as president-elect of the CEPH Board in 2019 followed by president in 2020.

In 2017, Dr. Williams was one of 15 public health leaders honored by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) as one of the “Georgia Giants in Public Health.” Fellow honorees included former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter, past CDC directors Drs. William Foege and Tom Frieden, 16th U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, and Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

An expert on chemical exposure and other toxicological threats, he has authored more than 100 scientific publications, three textbooks on toxicology, and has spoken at numerous professional conferences and meetings, including 15 in other countries.  He has been an adviser on chemical safety and hazardous materials issues to many government agencies and businesses, including the Hanford Nuclear Site in the state of Washington and OSHA for standards on occupational limits for toxic substances.

Prior to his tenure at UGA, which began in 1993, Dr. Williams was vice president of the Environmental Health Division of the global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, an adjunct professor of environmental and occupational health at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, a senior research scientist with the Georgia Tech Research Institute, and an industrial hygienist with the US Department of Labor/ Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Dr. Williams has a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and chemistry from Georgia State University and a doctoral degree in toxicology from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Dr. Williams announced his retirement as dean of the UGA College of Public Health effective December 1, 2018. He plans to continue his consulting, remain serving on the State Board of Public Health and the Council for Public Health Education, and spend more quality time with his grandchildren.

For more information about the Dean Williams Endowment Fund, please contact Jordan DeRosa.