Claire E. Sterk


Emory University


Claire E. Sterk is the 20th president of Emory University and the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Public Health. She began her role as president on September 1, 2016. A pioneering public health scholar, Sterk has served for the past two decades as a social scientist, academic leader, and administrator at Emory. Prior to becoming president, she was the university's sixth provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

Sterk is a globally renowned thought leader who has deepened our understanding of social and health disparities; addiction and infectious diseases, specifically HIV/AIDS; community engagement; and the importance of mentoring and empowering women leaders. She has held numerous leadership positions in professional organizations. Her academic publications include three books and more than 125 peer-reviewed articles. Her work is widely cited and has received more than 30 million dollars in external research funding. Professor Kirk Elifson, to whom she is married, is a key research partner; together they have lectured widely at universities around the world.

Both in her role as president and in her previous role as provost, Sterk has emphasized the choices and responsibilities of research universities and their real-world impact. She is a strong advocate for increased access and inclusion, and she is known for championing collaboration and innovation within the academy as well as through global external engagement—including at the local level.

A native of the Netherlands, Sterk earned her PhD in sociology from Erasmus University in Rotterdam and a doctorandus degree in medical anthropology from the University of Utrecht. She completed her undergraduate education at the Free University in Amsterdam.