Campus News

Heather Bush named permanent dean of UK College of Public Health

Heather Bush, Ph.D., wearing a brown jacket over a black shirt, with a field of green grass in the background.
Heather Bush has been named dean of the UK College of Public Health. Photo provided by Heather Bush.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 18, 2024) — Heather Bush, Ph.D., has been named permanent dean of the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health.

Bush has served as the acting dean of the College of Public Health since June 15, 2022. Under her leadership, the college has seen growth in research, teaching and service. The college has also expanded efforts to recognize and teach how different perspectives can thrive in public health. The college promotes, “You belong here,” through engagement and opportunities to celebrate its people. Last year, the college focused on highlighting first-generation students, alumni, faculty and staff.

Bush earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Mount Vernon Nazarene University, and she earned both her M.S. and Ph.D. in statistics from UK’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Prior to her academic appointment at UK in 2006, Bush worked as a senior biostatistician in industry, developing protocols and designing observational studies. She used this experience to transform the statistical support available at UK through her leadership roles with the Center for Clinical and Translational Science Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design (BERD) Core, the Predictive Analytics and Data Science (PADS) Hub (previously the Applied Statistics Laboratory) and supporting the launch of the Biostatistics CIRCL (Consulting and Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration Lab).

Bush is a full professor in the department of Biostatistics within Public Health, teaching courses at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels. Her courses focus on statistical consulting and applications of biostatistics. 

Through her time at UK, she has been recognized for her leadership and service to students and the entire campus community. She prioritizes collaboration and interdisciplinary engagement, partnering with multiple organizations to improve public health in the state, including the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC) and the HEALing Communities study. Bush’s research focuses on vulnerable populations, examining issues of women’s health and the prevention of sexual violence.

“I want to thank Dr. Bush for her service as acting dean for the last two years,” said UK Provost Robert S. DiPaola, M.D. “Dr. Bush has continually demonstrated exemplary leadership for the College of Public Health, leading efforts to revolutionize how our research can improve the health and lives of Kentuckians. I look forward to her continued leadership as we work to innovate how we care for our state.”

In 2015, Bush was named the Kate Spade & Company Foundation Endowed Professor in the Center for Research on Violence Against Women. She has been named University Research Professor and has won the Provost Award for Outstanding Teaching, the College of Public Health’s Golden Apple Award and the Dean’s Outstanding Teaching Performance Award.

“This appointment isn’t about me — it is about what we, as a college, will achieve next,” said Bush. “Together, we will continue to push boundaries, pursue research for practical solutions and prepare students to tackle public health challenges head-on. Our purpose is clear — bring together different voices and empower the community as we seek health for all. The greatest successes in public health lie not in individual feats, but in the strength of partnership and what can be accomplished together.”

Bush will assume the role of dean on April 1, 2024. 

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.