January 2020 Dean's Message
|Taking a deep dive into 2020: Dean Lushniak's favorite photo from his holiday break scuba diving trip!|
I hope that everyone enjoyed time off with family and friends and had time to rest, reflect and rejuvenate over the holiday break. Whether you’ve committed to a vegan January, a “dry” January, a new meditation practice or something else, I wish you success in your pursuit of happiness and well-being this year.
As we begin the new year and decade, it is not hard to see that we face so many challenges and obstacles to health. Since becoming dean of the UMD School of Public Health just three years ago, I have written about and responded to many of the ways that public health is under attack. I have marched for science and against gun violence, and spoken out about the mistreatment of immigrants, the rise of white supremacy and the urgency of the climate crisis, among other issues.
As a school and a university, we have mourned the senseless loss of two African American young men on our campus, Lt. Richard Collins and Jordan McNair. We recommitted to addressing racism and bias on our campus and society at large, and that work continues. In December, a jury convicted the man who killed 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III with first-degree murder. After two and a half years of seeking justice for his killing on our campus, the verdict provides a semblance of closure, but we must not forget or brush aside the need for continuously unraveling and challenging the legacy of racism that persists in our country.
As I have said to our students before, entering into the field of public health means entering into a commitment to promote social justice and health equity. We aim to provide opportunities for students to practice and demonstrate this commitment.
I am proud of our school’s activities and accomplishments last year that reflect this commitment, and which would not have been possible without the engagement of our dedicated students.
- A report on disparities in infant mortality conducted by our Department of Family Science to inform Maryland policymakers
- The Mission of Mercy and Health Equity Festival which served more than a thousand people in need of dental and health care
- The launch of the Prevention Research Center initiative to address mental health care for LGBTQ+ communities.
As we look towards the presidential election in November, we can expect heightened tension and conflict throughout the year. We know that the decision in November will have far-reaching consequences for health and social justice in this country and globally.
I encourage our students to register to vote, get engaged in the policy issues, organize and show up to make your voices heard on issues ranging from guns to climate change to immigration reform to reproductive health.
Looking ahead to National Public Health Week 2020, we have a wonderful opportunity to engage in dialogue about how we’ll achieve the new national objectives for improving the health of Americans at our 8th Annual Public Health Research at Maryland on April 7. With the theme, Our 2020 Vision for Healthy People 2030, the event takes place just a week after the new objectives are released by the Department of Health and Human Services.
In March, we’ll host our third annual Gold Public Health Innovation Award competition. There’s still time to apply. The competition encourages students to develop a creative solution to one of the world’s most complex public health issues and rewards the best ideas with start-up funds to turn the idea into reality. Learn more about how to pitch your idea.
Last but not least, we will be launching our SPH happiness initiative this year. Yes, you deserve to be happy! I’m excited for the possibilities to learn about how we can be happier together and to roll out some new resources for students, faculty and staff that will support mental health, well-being and happiness. Stay tuned for more in the spring semester.
All the best for a successful 2020!
Boris D. Lushniak. MD, MPH
Dean and Professor
University of Maryland, School of Public Health