Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf, who served throughout the two terms of Gov. Jack Markell, will join the University of Delaware’s College of Health Sciences (CHS) as professor of practice and distinguished health and social services administrator in residence.
The position begins after her tenure as Cabinet Secretary for DHSS ends in early 2017.
“With her extensive administrative experience in the health and social services fields, Secretary Landgraf brings both the vision and the practical knowledge necessary to help advance the University’s mission of service to others,” UD President Dennis Assanis said. “Her commitment to developing innovative, sustainable solutions to real-world challenges is a perfect fit for UD’s College of Health Sciences and its excellent STAR Health programs.”
“We are thrilled to have Rita join our college. She shares a common goal with CHS – improve the lives of all Delawareans,” said Kathleen Matt, dean of the College of Health Sciences. “She will work across UD as we continue our journey of health care innovation and transformation. It was a great pleasure to partner with Rita during her time with DHSS. We are honored to have someone of this caliber and experience join our team. We now look forward to working together on university work, research and education.”
Landgraf will also serve as the director of the UD Partnership for Healthy Communities, a cross-college, cross-state initiative led by Dan Rich and Lynette Overby. Landgraf will help bridge health sciences and public policy as CHS works to address community health challenges.
“I am excited to bring what I’ve learned in the field to the classrooms of the College of Health Sciences to help grow the next generation of health and social services professionals,” Landgraf said. “Meeting communities where they are has been one of the hallmarks of my tenure at DHSS, and I am fortunate to be able to help build those partnerships with Dean Matt and the University of Delaware. I thank Governor Markell for the opportunity to serve the people of Delaware during his administration. For me, public service has been my greatest honor. Now, my alma mater will provide the next chapter in my career of service to others.”
For the state, Landgraf oversaw a wide range of healthcare services from childcare to benefits assistance. She coordinated the state’s response to health care reform and focused on the needs of Delaware’s rapidly growing older population.
“As a member of my Cabinet, Rita’s tireless efforts have made dramatic improvements in systems of care, particularly for individuals with serious and persistent mental illness and other vulnerable residents, and expanded support networks to help more of our people live more independently in the community,” Markell stated. “She has led our incredible progress in opening new pathways for employment among people with disabilities. And she has championed important new efforts to tackle the addiction epidemic and increase access to health care for all Delawareans. Rita’s entire career reflects a passionate dedication to improving the quality of life of and increasing opportunities for individuals who most often find themselves on the fringes of society. I am delighted that she will continue to transform lives for the better across the community and make an impact on our next generation of leaders through her new work at UD.”
Landgraf, who graduated from UD in 1980 with a bachelor of science degree in community and family services, was inducted into the university’s Alumni Wall of Fame in 2011.