Dear friends and colleagues,
More than two weeks ago, we awoke to news of the senseless, horrific shooting deaths of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the victims and their friends and families, and to the survivors of this heinous hate crime against the LGBTQ community. I want to emphasize my support for the part our LGBTQ students, staff and faculty play in strengthening our campus and school communities and their commitment to diversity and inclusion at UMD.
Over the past two weeks, we have seen powerful symbols of support for the survivors of the tragedy in Orlando, and the tools of public health and public policy that can be deployed to prevent another tragedy from gun violence. As public health professionals, we recognize the need to address the public health epidemic of gun violence, and remain committed to the to commonsense reform of our gun laws as well as the expansion and enhancement of our mental health services.
Against the national backdrop, here on campus in College Park, we have settled into the rhythms of summer and are shifting our attention to the work of planning for our continuing growth as a School of Public Health and for the academic year ahead.
Once again I would like to congratulate our 489 students who completed their degrees this May and are off to become “changemakers, innovators and health makers,” in the words of our commencement speaker and alumnus Andre Blackman (’05). Mr. Blackman offered our graduates inspiring words and challenges to consider as they become new alumni of the School of Public Health. View the commencement video and photos from our festive reception here.
We look forward to welcoming 130 incoming freshman students this fall. Our newest undergraduate major, Public Health Science, has grown rapidly and now has nearly 700 students enrolled. Amazingly, we now have about 2500 students in our four undergraduate degree programs: Community Health, Family Science, Kinesiology, and Public Health Science.
Our graduate programs also continue to grow. This fall we will welcome 156 new graduate students. The many new concentrations in our Master of Public Health program have also drawn significant interest. For the first time, interested graduate students are now able to pursue a Certificate in Global Health along with their degree.
We have just begun the first phase of a major building renovation project to make room for our growth. We will convert about 6,100 square feet of old locker room space on the first floor into faculty offices (one floor up from the ground floor) for the Department of Behavioral and Community Health and other new faculty members (click to view the architectural rendering of the new space). We are anticipating that phase two of the construction will start in the fall and will convert old locker space on the ground floor of the building for research labs and classrooms.
Last but not least, we also bid farewell to several wonderful and wise faculty members who retire this year. You can read about the truly inspiring careers of Sally Koblinsky, Sandra Hofferth and Carol Werlinich, all from the Department of Family Science here. They each have contributed so much to their department, the school and the university community and will be very missed.
We have a few transitions in the school leadership as well. I thank Sandra C. Quinn for her service as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Dr. Quinn played an important leadership role in our process of being reaccredited by the Council on Education for Public Health and has also helped build our capacity to serve our graduate students. Dr. Quinn will continue to serve as senior associate director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity and professor in the Department of Family Science as well as Director of the Maternal and Child Health graduate program. Dr. Barbara Alving will also step down as director of our Public Health Science undergraduate program, after having shepherded the rapidly growing program over the past two years.
As of July 2016, Dr. Stephen Roth will become the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and will also oversee the Public Health Science program.
I wish you an active and restorative summer. Do check out the books that several SPH faculty members recommend for your summer reading list as you head off to the beach or other destinations! The complete June 2016 newsletter can be read here.
Jane E. Clark
Professor and Dean