Message from the Dean, September 2017

Greetings friends and colleagues,
 
As we have all jumped into the high energy of the fall semester and our summer fun fades into memory, I want to wish you a wonderful new academic year. This is an exciting time for the School of Public Health as we observe our tenth anniversary year with activities and events to bring our community together. Let’s celebrate and have fun, recognize our accomplishments and envision our next ten years and beyond.
 
While our heritage actually dates back much further, with the creation of the Department of Physical Culture (Kinesiology’s predecessor) in 1898, the School of Public Health officially launched on September 26, 2007. This month, we have ten days of events planned, culminating in our Tenth Anniversary Bash on Wednesday, September 27, 2017. But, the fun doesn’t end there – look for tenth anniversary events throughout the year. I encourage you to RSVP to the bash and other upcoming events so we can count you in!
 
I am pleased that we will kick off our tenth anniversary year at the Mission of Mercy and Health Equity Festival this Friday, September 8. This service mission is a powerful demonstration of our university’s commitment to serving communities in need and to partnering with organizations like Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington and the Maryland State Dental Association and Foundation.  With the goal of providing emergency dental and health care, this event engages hundreds of volunteers to provide more than a thousand adults with critical care that will reduce pain and suffering and help participants connect with needed services that support ongoing health and wellness.
 
A few highlights about the UMD SPH this fall:
  • We welcome eight new faculty members with expertise ranging from social epidemiology to reproductive health to cardiometabolic diseases.
  • We welcomed many new students, bringing our total undergraduate student body to more than 2400 and our graduate student body to more than 350.
Mark your calendars for the following events:
With all the excitement of the new academic year, and all of the opportunities it will bring us, we have not forgotten the murder of Lieutenant Collins in the spring and recent events this summer in Charlottesville, Virginia that challenge us to come together as a campus to respond. We as the campus community at SPH reaffirm our core values of diversity, inclusion, respect and civil discourse and pledge to resist violence, hate and bias. In addition to the reflection, dialogue and activities led by the university, our School of Public Health will integrate content into classroom curricula this year to reinforce the ethics that underlie public health practice. In public health we are driven by a code of ethics that compels us to care for the well-being of others and to work tirelessly to dismantle the obstacles that prevent individuals and societies from achieving a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.
 
Unfortunately, new obstacles appear all the time. The decision announced this week by the Trump Administration to rescind the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program is antithetical to the core values and missions of the University of Maryland and higher education generally. Since 2012, the DACA program has enabled law-abiding students who came to this country as ​infants or​ children to ​be ​contributing members of our society​ by studying, working, or serving in the military. Without this legal protection, many young people, including students at UMD, will face unnecessary turmoil. President Loh has expressed UMD's unwavering support for the approximately 100 DACA students on our campus and, like me, believes that they deserve a legal status that recognizes their contributions to our country and safeguards them from the continuing uncertainty about their future. Read Dr. Loh’s statement on the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program
 
The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, of which our school is a member, has submitted a letter to Congressional leaders calling on on them to act. It urges Congress to “ensure that all members of the health care workforce with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status can continue their employment, education, training, and research, with passage of a permanent legislative remedy, such as the bipartisan, bicameral Dream Act of 2017 (S. 1615, H.R. 3440). By providing a legal pathway to permanent residency for undocumented Americans brought to the U.S. as children, Congress can help our country produce a diverse and culturally responsive health care workforce to meet the needs of underserved populations, improve cultural awareness, and promote health equity.”
 
Last but not least, our hearts are with those affected by Hurricane Harvey and in the path of Hurricane Irma. Natural disasters such as this remind us that we must work together with communities to develop resilience plans to avert and minimize the impacts of extreme weather wherever possible, recognizing the public health impact of extreme weather events in the face of global climate change. We must partner across sectors, working with our colleagues in urban planning, engineering and others to build resilient communities that can better withstand disasters and keep us healthy and safe.
 
Please read more about the latest from the School of Public Health in our September e-newsletter. I wish you a healthy and productive fall semester!

 

Boris

Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH 
Dean and Professor