Announcing the Vice Dean for Community Health

Dear Colleagues:

Olajide Williams

Olajide Williams

It is my pleasure to announce that Olajide Williams, MD, MS, has agreed to serve as Vice Dean for Community Health at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Williams, who is currently professor of neurology and associate dean of community research and engagement, will assume his new role effective today.

In asking Jide to take on this expanded role, we recognize the great impact of his service to Columbia and the opportunity to accomplish even more in the future. As Vice Dean, he will establish an advisory committee to advance health equity and access for Washington Heights, Inwood, and West Harlem. Dr. Williams will be charged with moving the needle on community health and achieving meaningful progress in our ability to improve patient outcomes and treat preventable diseases that disproportionately affect our local community. This work will require a multi-level approach, ranging from health education and awareness programming to increasing access to our clinical services, as well as bolstering local participation in our research activities. To that end, Dr. Williams will be responsible for developing and leveraging strong partnerships across the Columbia community and medical campus, in collaboration with the Office of Government & Community Affairs and the Office of Community Service Programs, and working externally with community organizations and local leaders. This is an opportunity to utilize the incredible assets that Columbia has at its disposal to broadly improve the health and well-being of our local community, a core tenet of our shared mission.

Dr. Williams is well prepared for the task. He came to us in 1998 for post-doctoral training at the Neurological Institute of New York, and we are fortunate he has remained with us since. Dr. Williams is a valued clinician, educator, and mentor who is actively engaged in addressing health care disparities and improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in academic medicine. He is founder and director of the Columbia Center for Community Health in the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, which provides critical health screening services, health insurance enrollment services, mental health training, and stroke prevention training to the local community at no cost. He is co-chair of the Columbia University Community Advisory Council, a University-wide effort to grow and support community partnerships by facilitating meaningful engagement with our neighbors. On the medical campus, Dr. Williams recently co-chaired the CUIMC Task Force for Addressing Structural Racism alongside Drs. Rafael Lantigua and Anne Taylor. He is co-chair of the CUIMC Academy of Community and Public Service and a member of the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators of VP&S.

Beyond Columbia, Dr. Williams is recognized as a global leader in the study of stroke disparities and a celebrated champion for public health and community-based behavioral intervention research. He is founder and chair of Hip Hop Public Health, an internationally recognized non-profit organization that utilizes multimedia public health interventions to engage young people in the health of their families and communities. Hip Hop Public Health has partnered with artists like Doug E. Fresh, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, and Chuck D in reaching marginalized communities throughout the country.

Dr. Williams is fond of these words from author and physician Mark Hyman: “The power of a community to create health is far greater than any doctor, clinic, or hospital.” We look forward to seeing the ways in which Dr. Williams will continue to bring these words to life as he builds on his exemplary service to Columbia and our community. Please join me in congratulating Jide.

All my best,

Katrina Armstrong, MD
Dean of the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences, Columbia University