As the end the academic year draws to a close, I am looking forward to celebrating with the first class of SPH students (596 of them!) to graduate since I became dean. Our School of Public Health commencement ceremony on May 20 at the Xfinity Center will include an address by kinesiology alumna Joy Bauer ’86, the nutrition and health expert for NBC’s TODAY show and a charismatic advocate for healthy living.
This has been an exciting and busy semester and I am pleased to have had many opportunities to get to know students, faculty and staff better. We launched monthly “conversations with the dean” about key public health topics in the news, and have explored varied issues including vaccines, gun violence and opioid addiction. I invite you to join us as we continue the series this fall or to make time for the exercise-inducing and thought-provoking scheduled “talk and walk” with the dean. Take a break from your computer and bend my ear about whatever is on your mind!
I completed my first 100 days in April. I took bold action to get students moving, promote prosperity and hold our elected officials accountable. Seriously though, I felt it important to take the time to listen and learn about the school’s strengths and opportunities for growth as we prepare to celebrate our 10th anniversary this fall. It is a great time for the school to take risks, expand key partnerships and strategically plan for our growth and improvement.
We showcased our diverse research strengths and partnerships at the fifth annual Public Health Research @ Maryland day in April, for which influential public health leaders including Dr. Leana Wen and Dr. Anthony Fauci joined us.
We celebrated the impressive accomplishments and selfless service activities of our highest achieving students at the 3rd annual SPH Honors Convocation. The second annual Global Health and Culture lecture we organized in conjunction with Behavioral and Social Sciences, given by Nicole Bates of the Gates Foundation, brought together students interested in global health issues across many disciplines on campus We have also begun to explore the pathway to further global health approaches at the SPH.
Our students are involved in planning and designing the new Mona Center for Health and Wellness, set to open later this year in Temple Hills, Maryland, which will address health disparities and improve quality of life for underserved Prince George’s County residents. This partnership between the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington and our Center for Health Equity will include a medical and dental clinic, wellness center, legal services, a community garden and teaching kitchen, and an array of programming to address job readiness, physical activity, nutrition literacy and access to healthy foods.
The School of Public Health will partner with Catholic Charities again this September to bring back the Mission of Mercy and Health Equity Festival to the Xfinity Center. In 2014, the event delivered $1.2 million in dental care and a variety of preventive health and screening services to more than 1000 people. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to volunteer to make the event a success again this year!
I want to also recognize and welcome Dr. Hongjie Liu, our new chair for the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, who will take on this leadership role in July. The School of Public Health also bids a fond farewell to Associate Professor Robin Sawyer, who is retiring after more than 30 years as one of the university's most popular and honored educators. He leaves an inspiring legacy!
Best wishes to all for an active and healthy summer and to our graduates for success in your next endeavors!
Boris D. Lushniak
Dean and Professor