Center for Health Literacy Welcomes Dr. Cynthia Baur as New Director
Beginning in January 2017, Cynthia Baur, PhD, will take the helm as the new Endowed Professor and Director of the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy. Dr. Baur has worked for thirteen years in significant communication roles with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia and has helped to define best practices for health literate communications. Most recently, she served as the Senior Advisor for Health Literacy and Plain Language in the Office of the Associate Director for Communication. In this role, she created the CDC’s health literacy website, which provides tools to improve health literacy and public health. Her approach is based in communication science and is focused on providing diverse audiences with information in ways they can understand and use.
She focuses on providing clear messages using the appropriate channels for a specific audience to achieve maximum reach. Her strategy builds in what she calls “dynamic feedback loops” so that the communication process is iterative and self-correcting. She was also a co-creator of the CDC Clear Communication Index, a tool that can be used to help organizations develop and assess the effectiveness of public communication materials. She also developed training programs to educate health professionals about their role in providing health information and services and promoting public health literacy and was lead author and editor of the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. Baur earned her PhD in Communication from the University of California, San Diego and her BA in Rhetoric from the University of California, Davis.
At UMD, Dr. Baur will help build and expand the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy’s programs focused on improving the ability of Maryland’s most vulnerable populations to get accurate health information, understand it and use it to lower risk and improve health. The center does this through research, education, public policy initiatives and partnerships, including Health Literacy Maryland, a statewide coalition of individuals and organizations working together to improve health literacy in our communities.
“Dr. Baur is internationally known as an intellectual, research and policy leader in health literacy. She will be a huge asset to the Horowitz Center, and expand its influence and contributions in Maryland and across the nation,” Professor Sandra Quinn, chair of the search committee that selected Baur, said.
Founded in 2007, the Horowitz Center was the first academic research center established to focus on health literacy science and its application. It was established by Research Associate Professor Alice Horowitz, in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health, in memory of her husband Herschel S. Horowitz, DDS, MPH, who was an internationally known dental epidemiologist, educator and public health advocate whose work focused on the prevention of tooth decay, the most common disease of childhood.