Faculty & Research

Sara Bachman named dean of Penn School of Social Policy & Practice

Sara “Sally” Bachman has been named dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, effective Jan. 1. The announcement was made today by Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett.

“Sally Bachman is an acclaimed scholar, teacher and academic leader,” Gutmann said. “She is passionately committed to integrating the perspectives and tools of multiple disciplines and professions in research, community partnerships, policy development and education, and training activities to strengthen and advance social work, social policy, social change and social justice. She is exceptionally well prepared to lead Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice into this next exciting phase in its growth and evolution.”

Bachman comes to Penn from Boston University. She is the Paul Farmer Professor in the School of Social Work, a research professor in the School of Public Health, and the inaugural director of the Center for Innovation in Social Work and Health, whose mission is to elevate social work leadership and cross-sector collaboration to promote health, health equity and social justice.

During her tenure as director, she has brought together faculty and experts from social work, public health, global health and other disciplines to advance initiatives that reduce health costs, improve outcomes, enhance the patient experience, promote population health and stimulate health equity nationally and globally. During the last five years, she and colleagues have garnered nearly $25 million in grant support for their scholarly and outreach activities.

“I am grateful for the exciting opportunity,” Bachman said, “to serve as the next dean of Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice. I am eager to join with President Gutmann, Provost Pritchett, SP2 faculty, students, alumni and others to build on the accomplishments of the school under the exceptional leadership of Dean John Jackson. Together, we will leverage our shared passions, skills and knowledge in the pursuit of social innovation, impact and justice.”

“Sally is a committed and talented educator,” Pritchett said. “She has taught and mentored master’s and doctoral students in social work, public health and health policy. She has been recognized for teaching excellence in public health and social work, and was honored by BU’s social work alumni association for her contributions to that school. She has published numerous journal articles with student contributors and co-authors.”

An epidemiologist and expert in social welfare policy, Bachman earned her undergraduate degree in biology from Bucknell University, where she has remained a committed and engaged alumna, including service as alumni association class president, and as a member of the recent fundraising campaign’s executive committee. She earned her master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and a doctorate from the Heller School at Brandeis University.

She remains deeply connected to the public health and nonprofit communities, including serving on the boards of the Massachusetts Dental Society Foundation and the Women’s Lunch Place (a shelter for poor and homeless women in Boston), having earlier served on the boards of Bicycles Against Poverty, Century Health System, the Associates of the Boston Public Library and the Natick Visiting Nurse Association.

The selection of Sally Bachman concludes a global search to identify a successor to John L. Jackson Jr., who, after serving as dean since 2014, will assume the deanship of Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication, also effective Jan. 1.

“We are all grateful for John’s energetic, committed and inspired leadership,” Gutmann said. “The School of Social Policy & Practice has enrolled an increasingly diverse and academically accomplished student body, and faculty research programs have grown ever stronger. John also forged partnerships with the Graduate School of Education and the School of Nursing to spearhead The Penn Futures Project, which is improving the lives of young people and their families across Philadelphia.”

“Sally Bachman is uniquely positioned,” Pritchett said, “to advance the School of Social Policy & Practice’s vision and mission as a leading global center for transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research, education and outreach focused on the most complex and challenging societal questions.”