Dr. Don Operario Selected as BSHES Chair

February 2, 2022

By Kelly Jordan

After a national search, Dr. Don Operario has been selected as Chair of the Department of Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences. Operario will join Rollins July 1 as acting Grace Crum Rollins Distinguished Professor and Chair, at which point, Dr. Cam Escoffery will transition out of her interim chair role and return to her position as professor with the department.

Operario joins Rollins from Brown University School of Public Health where he serves as professor of public health in the Department of Behavior and Social Sciences. His research addresses two inter-related areas. The first general area concerns the social psychological determinants of HIV, mental health, and related health issues (substance use, structural violence, access to services) in historically marginalized communities, with an emphasis on developing and evaluating theory-based social and behavioral interventions that are relevant for delivery in complex communities. A second research area focuses on the lived experiences associated with social inequality, with an emphasis on understanding the perspectives of intersectional identities and addressing health and psychosocial disparities.

His NIH-funded projects examine these public health issues among racial and ethnic minority populations as well as sexual and gender minority populations in the United States, the Philippines, China, South Korea, Kenya, and South Africa.

Operario has published more than 250 scientific articles and holds a number of leadership roles at Brown. He is on the editorial advisory board of Culture, Health & Sexuality; is a consulting editor of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors; is academic editor of PLoS One; and is on the editorial board of both AIDS Education and Prevention and International Journal of Transgender Health.

He received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Brown University School of Public Health, the University of Oxford Excellence in Teaching Award, the American Psychological Association Distinguished Leadership Award on Psychology and AIDS, and recently served as chair of the American Psychological Association Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs.

Operario received his master’s and PhD in social psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Dr. Cam Escoffery has served as interim chair since January 1, 2022, and will continue to do so until Operario's arrival. The department was previously chaired by Dr. Colleen McBride, who was instrumental in  building the department’s reputation for excellence and success in her nearly eight years as chair. Among her many accomplishments as chair include: leading efforts to successfully rebrand the department to a name better fitting its mission; hiring 15 new BSHES faculty; increasing MPH enrollment for the department; formalizing faculty mentoring; creating an Office of Evidence Based Learning; strengthening the BSHES curriculum; leading a strategic planning process for BSHES; and more. McBride has rejoined the department's faculty.  

The search committee was chaired by Drs. Kimberly Jacob Arriola and Robert Krafty.