White House COVID czar Dr. Ashish Jha to resign soon, return to prior dean position at Brown University

June 9, 2023
Ben Marquis

On May 11, the Biden administration finally allowed the public health emergency on COVID-19 to expire more than three years after it was first declared in March 2020 under the Trump administration, effectively marking the end of the pandemic era.

As an obvious result, it was announced on Thursday that White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha would be resigning from that position on June 15, according to The Hill.

Following a brief break, Jha will then return to the previous job he held as dean of Brown University's School of Public Health before taking on the COVID czar role in President Joe Biden's White House last year.

Biden praises Jha for his service

In a statement on Thursday, President Biden said, "When I took office, our nation was facing a once-in-a-generation pandemic, hit with a virus that changed everything. Thanks to my Administration’s whole-of-government approach, we now have the tools to manage COVID-19 and the virus no longer controls our daily lives."

"For the last year, I have relied on Dr. Ashish Jha to help me do just that as the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator," he continued. "As one of the leading public health experts in America, he has effectively translated and communicated complex scientific challenges into concrete actions that helped save and improve the lives of millions of Americans."

"I extend my deepest thanks to Ashish and his family. We are a stronger and healthier nation because of his contributions to public service," the president added.

University welcomes Jha back

Brown University also issued a news release on Thursday to announce that Dr. Jha would return to his role as Dean of the School of Public Health on July 1, at which point Interim Dean Ronald Aubert, who has filled in for Jha during his absence since March 2022, would transition to a permanent position as the school's senior associate dean of education.

"Ashish’s willingness to serve the nation in a moment of such tremendous challenge, and his commitment to focusing on science and solutions, sets an excellent example for every aspiring public health leader," Brown Interim Provost Larry Larson said o Jha. "We’re excited to welcome him back to Brown. At the same time, we are deeply grateful to Ron Aubert for his outstanding leadership in ensuring continued positive momentum at the School of Public Health."

Aubert also stated Jha's impending return and said, "I’m grateful to the scholars, educators, and students who have continued to advance Dean Jha’s vision and who make the School of Public Health a dynamic and impactful place to work and study."

"Their collective research continues to improve lives in Rhode Island and around the world. We are all very excited about the return of Dean Jha and look forward to quickly translating his real-world, real-time policy work into the educational experience of our students," he added.

COVID czar role to be replaced by Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response

The news release from Brown further included a statement from Dr. Jha, who signaled that he was looking forward to being able to apply some of the things learned from the national pandemic response as part of the education and training of students who will serve as future members and leaders of the public health community.

"We are in a world drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. "For all we have accomplished to reduce illness and save lives, COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses in our public health and healthcare systems."

"I look forward to returning to Brown to continue our groundbreaking work transforming public health education, research, and practice to convert these weaknesses to strengths," he added.

The Hill noted that once Jha has formally resigned from his current position at the White House, the job of COVID czar will essentially be disbanded and replaced by a new Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response, though the details are still being worked out and, at least as of yet, that new office has no leaders or staffers.

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