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Thomas R. Prohaska Named Dean of George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services

January 23, 2012

Media contact: Leah Kerkman Fogarty, 703-993-8781,

Fairfax, Va.—Thomas R. Prohaska will become the next dean of George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), effective July 1, 2012. Prohaska succeeds Shirley Travis, who previously announced she was stepping down.

Prohaska comes to Mason from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he is a professor of community health sciences in the School of Public Health and co-director of the Center for Research on Health and Aging. He brings with him more than 25 years’ experience in public health research, focusing on community health and aging issues.

“Dean-Elect Prohaska impressed many of us with his own record in public health research and teaching, but also his broad interest in stimulating new opportunities for students, as well as additional research achievements in the units that make up the College of Health and Human Services,” says Mason Provost Peter N. Stearns. “I look forward to working with him.”

Thomas R. ProhaskaProhaska received his PhD from Virginia Commonwealth University and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, focusing on gerontological and health psychology. He holds an MA in psychology from Middle Tennessee State University and a BA in psychology from Roger Williams College.

“While the search committee reviewed the credentials of many highly qualified candidates interested in this exciting opportunity to join our university, Dr. Prohaska’s background, experiences and outstanding reputation in fields critical to the college make him ideally suited and well-prepared to lead CHHS during the next era,” says College of Education and Human Development Dean Mark Ginsberg, who chaired the dean’s search committee.

In his career, Prohaska has had more than 75 journal articles published and was the editor of five books and journal issues. He acted as a consultant for the public television show “Sit and Be Fit,” an exercise program aimed at older adults with limited mobility. He was also a consultant and contributing author on two National Institute on Aging exercise guides, the first of which saw a distribution of more than 1.1 million manuals and 40,000 videos.

He has been honored as a fellow for the Gerontological Society of America, and with the Distinguished Professor Gerontology/Geriatrics Award from the University of California Los Angeles Academic Geriatric Resource Center for exceptional work and valuable contributions to the field of aging.

“I am impressed with the faculty, staff and administration of the College of Health and Human Services at Mason, and I share their enthusiasm for the future for the College,” says Prohaska. “My public health perspective, my emphasis on mentoring and my applied health research are very compatible with the disciplines and programs within CHHS.”

Prohaska will be the second dean of the College of Health and Human Services, which was created five years ago after combining the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the Department of Social Work. Travis, the founding dean of the college, will begin a retirement transition plan when she steps down July 1.

About George Mason University
George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country. Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university. George Mason University—Where Innovation Is Tradition.