Memorial Service for Prof. Tim Edgar Is March 4

Medical school faculty member was internationally known for his work in health communication

Tim Edgar with students

A memorial service and reception celebrating the life of Timothy Edgar, a professor of public health and community service at Tufts School of Medicine, will be held this Saturday, March 4, starting at 1 p.m. in the Arthur M. Sackler Center for Medical Education, 145 Harrison Ave., on the health sciences campus in Boston. Edgar died on January 2 in New Delhi, India, after surgery following a motor vehicle accident. He was about to begin a month of work for Unite for Sight at Kalinga Eye Hospital in Dhenkanal, Odisha.

Edgar held a secondary faculty appointment at the School of Medicine for 14 years before coming to Tufts full time in 2016. Before that, he was on the Emerson College faculty and led its M.A. in health communication degree program, which was offered in collaboration with Tufts’ M.S. in health communication, one of the medical school’s Public Health and Professional Degree Programs. He is remembered as an exceptional teacher and mentor, and was internationally recognized for his work in health communication and social marketing.

“The world of health communication lost a giant as the new year opened, and many of us also lost a cherished colleague and consummate friend,” said Aviva Must, dean of Public Health and Professional Degree Programs.

Jim Hyde, an associate professor of public health and community medicine emeritus who directed the M.S. in health communication from 1995 to 2007, recalled how much he enjoyed working with Edgar. “Tim was meticulous and rigorous in his approach to everything he did. No detail was too small. No fact too unimportant to be checked and double-checked,” Hyde said. “Yet he was not a pedant, often willing to think outside the box in ways that had never occurred to others.”

Susan Gallagher, an assistant professor and current director of the M.S. program, remembered Edgar for his wry sense of humor and his love of the arts (fine and culinary) and all things baseball, especially the Boston Red Sox.

He was beloved by his students. “He has inspired me to work just as hard in my future career, to have a finer attention to detail, and to take pride in anything I set out to accomplish, no matter how big or small,” said Ryan Kelly, a current health communication student.

Edgar also made his mark outside of academia. The methods he developed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the early 2000s to evaluate the impact and reach of the agency’s health communication campaigns are still used today. His efforts to elevate the role of communication in public health agencies and community-based organizations earned him the 2016 K. Everett M. Rogers Award from the American Public Health Association for contributions to health education and health promotion.

To honor their teacher and mentor, the Public Health and Professional Degree Programs Alumni Association has established the Timothy Edgar Scholarship Fund to support the tuition of promising health communication or public health students. If you’d like to make a donation to the fund, go to, select “Other” from the “Select an Area” dropdown menu, and type “Tim Edgar Scholarship” in the “Other” box. Or you may mail a check, payable to Tufts University, with Tim Edgar Scholarship in the memo line, to Tufts University School of Medicine, Office of Development, 136 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02111.

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