McKay named vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives

Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School Mary McKay in her home The People's House. James Byard/Washington University
Mary McKay, the Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School, has been appointed vice provost of interdisciplinary initiatives in the Office of the Provost. (Photo: James Byard/Washington University)

Mary McKay, the Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, has been appointed vice provost of interdisciplinary initiatives in the Office of the Provost.

Her appointment begins Jan. 1. She will continue to serve as dean for the remainder of this calendar year.

“Mary is uniquely suited to strengthen a culture of collaboration, scholarly distinction and inclusive excellence,” said Provost Beverly Wendland. “As dean of the Brown School, Mary has demonstrated exceptional achievement in developing partnerships across disciplines and supporting faculty, staff and students to do their best work. 

“She and her colleagues at the Brown School have elevated outstanding graduate educational programs, high-impact research and collaborative partnerships across our region,” Wendland said. “I am certain that as vice provost, Mary will draw upon her considerable experience to help advance opportunities in teaching, learning and research at WashU.”

McKay was named dean of the Brown School in 2016. 

Her academic experience connects to both social work and public health. McKay has received substantial federal funding for research focused on meeting the mental health and health prevention needs of youth and families impacted by poverty. She also has significant expertise in child mental health services and implementation research methods, as well as over 20 years of experience conducting HIV prevention and care-oriented studies, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

She has authored more than 200 publications on mental and behavioral health, HIV/AIDS prevention, urban poverty and more.

In 2019, McKay launched the Brown School’s strategic planning process, “Driving Equity 2030.” This plan has positioned the school to drive forward its core commitments and strategic priorities over the next decade. 

“I look forward to the opportunity to enhance interdisciplinary research and education across the Danforth Campus and to build the collaborations our community needs to ensure the successful implementation of the university’s strategic plan,” McKay said. “In large part, it is with thanks to the Brown School community for welcoming me and trusting me to serve as their leader that I have been presented with my next Washington University opportunity.”

Prior to joining the Brown School, McKay was the McSilver Professor of Social Work and the inaugural director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work. She previously served as head of the Division of Mental Health Services Research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Her prior academic appointments include Columbia University and University of Illinois at Chicago.

“I often mention that the Brown School is a place that I have respected across my career,” McKay said. “It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve six years as dean. This is of course not goodbye to the Brown School but rather a deepened commitment to the university and to St. Louis for my family and me. I have complete confidence that the Brown School has leaders at all levels who will continue to propel the school forward.” 

“I’m excited for Mary to take on this new role at the university,” said Tom Hillman, chair of the Brown School National Council and university trustee. “It is a recognition of Mary’s great work and provides her the opportunity to do even more for the university. Mary has built on the foundation that deans Lawlor and Khinduka created and has elevated the Brown School across the fields of social work, public health and social policy. Mary has built a highly effective team at the Brown School and their work will continue to advance and elevate its work and achievements.” 

As soon as possible, but no later than Dec. 1, co-interim deans representing the interdisciplinary educational and research programs of the Brown School will be named. An international search will be conducted for McKay’s successor as dean.