Kennesaw State selects renowned public health scholar to lead Wellstar College

KENNESAW, Ga. | Dec 23, 2020

 Monica Swahn
Monica Swahn

Kennesaw State University President Pamela Whitten and Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathy Schwaig have named Monica Swahn as dean of the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services, effective March 1.

Currently, Swahn serves as a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Georgia State University. She previously served as the University’s associate vice president for research and as associate dean for research for the College of Health and Human Sciences. Prior to Georgia State, Swahn spent 10 years in several positions within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including the Office of the Chief Science Officer.

“An internationally renowned scholar and educator, Dr. Swahn’s experience and leadership in the area of research combined with her administrative knowledge, makes her the ideal person to lead the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services,” said Whitten. “I'm confident that her expertise and vision for the College will create even more opportunities for our students and faculty, and will further enhance our external partnerships.”

As dean, Swahn will serve as the chief academic and administrative officer for the Wellstar College, responsible for the College’s strategic planning, academic program development and fundraising. She will report directly to the provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs.

“Dr. Swahn is a motivated educator with international experience in areas critical to public health,” Schwaig said. “She brings a deep base of knowledge and passionate commitment to one of the fastest-growing colleges on campus, and I look forward to working with her to elevate Wellstar College to exciting new heights.”

Swahn was a Fulbright Scholar for the sub-Saharan HIV program in Uganda and previously served as the Associate Director for Research for the Injury Prevention Research Center at Emory University. Her main research areas pertain to health risk behaviors and disparities among adolescents and young adults.

Currently, she is involved in several research projects including examining the role of alcohol policies in homicide and suicide in the U.S., examining alcohol use and treatment outcomes for breast cancer among women in Nigeria, assessing the structural drivers of sexual violence perpetration among freshmen in Georgia, and developing a social norms campaign to reduce and delay underage drinking and alcohol-related HIV transmissions in East Africa.  Swahn has published more than 100 scientific reports and her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the CDC and the World Health Organization. Her international work was recognized by the Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award in 2019.

“I am very honored to have been appointed the next dean of the Wellstar College during this time of rapid growth and success,” said Swahn. “I enthusiastically embrace KSU’s student-centered approach, and focus on research with relevance. It will be a privilege to build on this exciting trajectory and to prepare the next generation of health professionals for this rapidly evolving world.”

Swahn holds a Ph.D. in epidemiology, a master’s in public health and a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.

The Wellstar College of Health and Human Services is composed of four academic units: the Department of Social Work and Human Services, the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management, the Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education and the Wellstar School of Nursing. The College also houses the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth and the Continuing Education Division. Earlier this year, the College received a nearly $9 million gift from the Wellstar Health System to help expand the College’s nursing program.

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit