Massey Award: Ned Brooks: Imaginative, warm, tenacious
Imaginative leadership, a warm personality, and a tenacious capability are a few of the traits that stand out about Associate Vice Chancellor Ned Brooks, one of four recipients of the University’s C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Award.
His creative skills are in high demand around campus, not just in health affairs but in organizations whose advisory boards he serves on or chairs, ranging from Transportation and Parking’s to the Friday Center’s. He knows how to set a goal and stick to it, those who work with him say, and is especially effective on committees, using his eloquence and affability to persuade colleagues of the logic of his position.
“He’s a very even-tempered person who makes friends easily–a very upbeat personality,” said Ernest Schoenfeld, associate dean of the School of Public Health and colleague of Brooks’ for 23 years. “He has a lot of enthusiasm that he brings to whatever task he’s doing.”
H. Garland Hershey, vice chancellor for health affairs, described Brooks as “the kind of University citizen we would all like to have as a colleague. He is absolutely dedicated to the University.”
That dedication becomes obvious in just the briefest conversation with Brooks. He finds much to praise at Carolina, particularly the openness, democracy and egalitarianism he sees here.
“All these things permeate the University,” he said. “They define it.”
If he could make a change?
“One thing would be for us to celebrate ourselves rather than castigate ourselves, for us to recognize our good qualities more,” he said. He also sees room for increased support of teaching and service.
“I do think faculty need support in learning how to provide public service more effectively,” he said. “An awful lot of leadership is knowing what’s working and finding ways to support that.”
Brooks came to the University in 1972 as a research associate at the Health Services Research Center, now known as the Sheps Center. He rose to the position of associate director for operations before leaving in 1986 to join the vice chancellor for health affairs’ office.
Also an adjunct assistant professor of health policy and administration, Brooks assists the vice chancellor in coordinating activities in the Division of Health Affairs, which includes the schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public health as well as several research centers.
He describes his day-to-day work as doing everything from exploring how to solve a space problem to promoting diversity to understanding health care issues.
“That’s part of why I love my job,” he said. “The variety is just stunning. It’s enormous.”
He is equally impressed by the quality of his colleagues, he said, particularly “the brains, the ingenuity, the innovation, the knowledge.”
Outside the University, he has worked for groups such as the United Way, where he led the local fund-raising campaign at a time when a national scandal threatened success in Orange County. He now sits on the statewide United Way board and the board of Chapel Hill’s Rape Crisis Center.
Brooks received his doctorate in public health from Carolina in 1985. His research interests include health manpower, rural health-services delivery, health and social services for children and health promotion and disease prevention.
Originally published by the University Gazette: May 24, 1995