Girmay Berhie

Photo courtesy Charles A. Smith/JSU

Photo courtesy Charles A. Smith/JSU

Jackson resident Girmay Berhie became Jackson State University's new dean of the School of Public Health and Social Work in August 2019. Berhie, who previously served as a professor and associate dean of research and health informatics at Marshall University in Huntington, W.V., moved to Jackson after accepting the position with JSU. He had worked at Marshall University for more than 18 years.

Berhie was born in Adwa in northern Ethiopia and studied social work there before immigrating to the United States to attend St. Louis University in Missouri, where he received a master's degree in social work and a doctorate in public policy and administration with a concentration in research methodology. He also received a master's degree in information systems from Marshall University and studied biostatistics and epidemiology at John Hopkins University.

"Technology and research have always been a strong interest for me, especially fields such as artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and databases," Berhie says. "I came to the United States because I knew I could get a good education on those subjects here, and I felt it was the right time to pursue it."

After graduating, Berhie began teaching courses in research methodology at St. Louis University and later became a professor and director of the West Virginia Statistical Analysis Center at Marshall University. While there, he founded and chaired the university's School of Health Informatics, Nursing Informatics and Data Analytics and served as founder and chair of its undergraduate and graduate studies of public health program.

In his current position with JSU, Berhie primarily works out of the Jackson Medical Mall and assists the JSU faculty in grant writing and drafting long-term plans for economic development, including the creation of affordable housing programs. He also partners with churches close to the Medical Mall on programs to address food deserts in Jackson, which are places where residents do not have easy access to healthy food.

"The primary reason I came to work for JSU was that I felt I could make a difference here," Berhie says. "JSU is in a position to be more active than ever in community development and to enact transformative change for the university and Jackson, and I believe that the School of Public Health and Social Work is going to be the economic engine of that transformation."

Berhie has three daughters. Their oldest daughter, Saba Berhie, graduated from the University of Chicago with an MD degree in gynecology, completed her four-year residency from Harvard University, and is currently receiving a fellowship from Northwestern University in Illinois. His second daughter, Sara Berhie, graduated from Washington University and used to work for Goldman Sacks. His youngest daughter, Sophia Berhie, received her master's degree from Yale University and works with the state department in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment