William Satariano, distinguished epidemiology and community health professor, dies at 70

June 1, 2017

Satariano black and white

William Satariano, professor of Epidemiology and Community Health Sciences and director of undergraduate health programs at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, died Sunday, May 28, at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek. He was 70 years old.

Professor Satariano’s distinguished career spanned more than 40 years — over 20 of which he spent at UC Berkeley, where he earned numerous accolades, including a Fulbright Senior Scholarship, the Alfred W. Childs Distinguished Service Award for Faculty, and the American Cultures Innovation in Teaching award.

Satariano, who was known as “Bill” by colleagues, friends, and family, received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Santa Clara University. He then went on to earn a masters and doctorate of philosophy in sociology from Purdue University, before landing at UC Berkeley where he earned an MPH in behavioral sciences and an MS in epidemiology.

“Bill has been a beloved member of the School of Public Health for more than 20 years. He has been a dear colleague and friend to so many of us. His death is an enormous loss to our School community and to the field of public health,” said Stefano M. Bertozzi, dean of the School.

Satariano’s expertise and research interests were in the field of aging and public health. He studied a range of issues related to healthy aging, including cancer rehabilitation and survival, the built environment and health behaviors, and technology and the promotion of physical activity among older adults. Satariano contributed to more than 120 scholarly publications over the years. He served as a principal investigator on research topics ranging from the effects of Agent Orange and its link to cancer to the effect of mobile phone technology on walking in older populations.

In 2006, he published Epidemiology of Aging: An Ecological Approach, a book that explores the biological, social, and environmental factors of aging. The book was just updated in 2017.

In addition to his contributions to improving health for the elderly, Satariano also made an impact on the lives of many public health students. He served in many leadership positions at the School, including director of the Health and Social Behavior program, associate dean for Public Health Practice, chair of the Faculty Council, co-director of the Masters of Public Health/Masters of City Planning concurrent degree program, and director of the undergraduate major in public health.

Associate Dean of Public Health Practice Jeffrey Oxendine, who served as co-director of the undergraduate public health major alongside Satariano, recalled him as a “humble and brilliant friend and colleague.”

“Under Bill's leadership, the undergraduate program was rated as the top in the country,” Oxendine said. “I will always admire his dedication to students, quality teaching, and meaningful community engagement. I will treasure my memories of teaching with him, his spirit, and our friendship.”

School of Public Health faculty members remember Satariano as a beloved colleague, teacher, and friend.

“Bill was smart, funny, self-deprecating, and inevitably willing to lend a hand,” said Arthur Reingold, professor and division head of epidemiology. “He made any class or meeting more enjoyable. He will be deeply missed by his colleagues, students, family, and many friends.”

Lisa Barcellos, professor of epidemiology, added Satariano’s “passion for the undergraduate students, his leadership role in the program's management committee, and major contributions to the student admission process each year contributed to the overall success of the undergraduate program.”

She went on to say, “I will miss our conversations and work together. I will remember most his deep love for his family, including his wife, Enid, his son and daughter, and grandchildren. We talked about them often.”

The family asks that memorial donations be sent to the William Satariano Memorial Fund. Checks should be made payable to the UC Berkeley Foundation and mailed to the School of Public Health, 417K University Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-7360. The name of the fund should be noted on the check. Online donations may be made at give.berkeley.edu/satariano.

A campus memorial service is scheduled for October 13, 2017.