December 2019 Dean's Message
To our extended SPH community,
As we enter the last few days of 2019, things certainly get busy here at SPH. There is an increased tempo with students preparing for finals, faculty completing their teaching duties, researchers working toward end of year goals, and staff ensuring that our school is operating effectively and efficiently to close out the year. There’s an excitement preparing for the winter commencement where we’ll bid farewells and best wishes for new adventures to the 297 students who have fully completed their undergraduate studies and the 33 scholars who have attained graduate degrees. Congratulations graduates and remember, in the midst of your jubilation, to thank those who helped you get to this finish line – family, friends, teachers, mentors. This community of care that has been with you through your academic career will continue to be important as you traverse new paths.
December is not only a time of conclusions but also of holiday and new year celebrations. To those who celebrate holidays in December, I wish you a happy holiday season and a happy new year to come. Let’s take a well-deserved break and rededicate ourselves to creating health, happiness, and well-being for ourselves, our families, and our communities.
In January, I celebrate my third year as Dean. SPH has become a home for me, and I thank our students, staff, faculty, alumni, friends and supporters of the SPH for that. I continue to feel blessed to be part of this diverse public health community at SPH. I look forward to working with our whole SPH team to achieve the goals and unleash our 2020 initiatives as we begin a new decade.
We can be proud of how far we have come as a school. In the past ten years, we received our first full accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (2010) and were reaccredited in 2015, created the Global Public Health Scholars program, established the Maryland Center for Health Equity, remodeled our building (more than once), established a signature annual Public Health Research at Maryland Day, held three Mission of Mercy and Health Equity Festival events, established the Public Health Science undergraduate degree (the fourth and now largest of our undergraduate majors), celebrated our tenth anniversary (2017) and the Department of Kinesiology's 125th anniversary (2018), added several new master's and doctoral programs (including a growing number of online options) and so much more! We've launched a Global Health Iniative and built significant research programs related to climate and health, aging, cancer prevention, LGBTQ+ mental health, and exercise and brain health, among others.
We have many challenges in the year, and decade, ahead including the excitement and at times, the drag, of politics, the elections, policy issues impacting our nation's physical, mental and social wellbeing, and the overwhelming public health issues that continue to confront us. The key characteristic that allows us to tackle the year ahead is that of optimism. It is a feature that allows us to focus on being engaged, on respecting one another, and on improving the world around us. As the Dalai Lama said: “Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.”
Boris D. Lushniak. MD, MPH
Dean and Professor
University of Maryland, School of Public Health