Office of the Provost

Heller School Dean Transition

April 15, 2022

Dear Brandeis Community,

David Weil, Dean of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, has recently informed me that he does not plan to renew his appointment as dean after his fifth year, so he will be stepping down as Dean in June 2022. He plans to spend next year on a sabbatical leave.

Dean Weil has been a wonderful colleague and leader. During his time at Heller, David worked with the Heller community to move the school forward, integrating and strengthening its academic programs including bringing its global master’s programs under one umbrella and enhancing the student experience. These achievements are reflected in the school achieving top 10 rankings in two U.S. News & World Report graduate school categories. He worked closely with leaders of Heller research centers and institutes to collaborate across boundaries, and oversaw significant growth in research funding, activity and public engagement. He also strengthened Heller internally, embedding equity, inclusion and diversity into all aspects of the school’s operations and deepening bonds across the Heller community. Finally, he contributed to the university leadership team, particularly in navigating the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of these changes, Dean Weil leaves the Heller School strengthened financially and invigorated internally and externally.

Although we are saddened to see him step down, I am pleased to announce that a superb leader has agreed to serve as his successor, Dr. Maria Madison, who will step in as Heller interim dean, Maria Madison joined Brandeis in 2017 as Heller’s first Associate Dean for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity. In this role, she developed and implemented a targeted, evidence-based approach to improving DEI for all members of the Heller community, and forged innovative and effective partnerships across the school and the university as well as with policymakers and various organizations. In 2020, Maria was named one of GK50’s Most Influential People of Color in Higher Education.

In August 2020, Maria’s role expanded as she became director of Heller’s Institute on Economic and Racial Equity (formerly the Institute on Assets and Social Policy). Under her leadership, the institute adopted a new name, expanded its team and deepened its focus on policy-driven racial disparities. In December 2021, IERE secured a landmark $1 million gift from the Kapor Center to support a new initiative on racial justice and tech policy.

Maria is a trained global public health researcher with an ScD in population and international health from the Harvard School of Public Health, where she majored in international health epidemiology and she received awards for excellence in pharmacovigilance. She joined Brandeis with over two decades of experience designing, implementing and managing global health projects as well as clinical drug trials and registries. In these roles, she oversaw large, complex, multinational budgets and teams. She is also president and founder of The Robbins House, a historic building and nonprofit organization focused on raising awareness of the country’s long civil rights movement through preserving Concord, Massachusetts' Black history and educating global audiences on its national relevance. Maria was the recipient of the inaugural Robert Gross award as a public historian, and serves on various boards including as a trustee of Tufts University, from which she holds bachelor's and master’s degrees, and as associate editor of the journal Health Equity.

Interim Dean Madison will begin her position on July 1, 2022 and will be appointed to the position of interim dean for a minimum of a year. Work is now underway to ensure a smooth transition and assure coverage from within Heller to oversee Maria’s current roles as director of IERE and associate dean for EID. Information about the start of a national search for Heller School’s next permanent dean will be forthcoming.

Please join me in thanking Dean Weil for his outstanding service to Brandeis over his five year term, and in welcoming Associate Dean Maria Madison as the incoming interim dean of the Heller School.


Carol Fierke
Provost, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs