LITTLE ROCK — Dr. Paul Halverson will leave his post as state health officer and director of the state Department of Health to be the founding dean of the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Gov. Mike Beebe’s office announced Friday.

Halverson has led the Health Department since May of 2005. His last day as director will be May 5.

"Paul has been at the forefront of many important health initiatives, including our statewide trauma system and the Clean Indoor Air Act, that improve the quality of life for Arkansans," Beebe said in a news release. "We’re sad to see him go, but share his excitement for the opportunity awaiting him in Indiana."

Halverson said in the release, "It has been my honor to work for Gov. Beebe and with the great staff at the Arkansas Department of Health during a time of such significant change in Arkansas. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have been of service to the people of Arkansas."

Dr. Nathaniel Smith, currently deputy director for public health programs, will serve as interim director after Halverson’s departure.

Smith, a specialist in infectious diseases, has been with the Health Department since 2004. He previously served as the state epidemiologist.