Photo: Francisco Becerra (PAHO assistant director), Alice Horowitz (UMD SPH research professor), and Boris Lushniak (Dean) at the UMD SPH reception at APHA

Dear friends of the SPH,

As we look forward to spending time with family or friends over the Thanksgiving break, I would like to recognize some things for which I am thankful.

First, I’d like to thank all the individuals who dedicate their lives to promoting and protecting public health. The recent American Public Health Association meeting in Atlanta, which I attended with many of our students, faculty and staff, was a great display of how public health initiatives are making a difference in areas as diverse as climate change, maternal and child health, substance abuse and mental health.

Our research made an impression. Two of our doctoral students, Kecia Ellick (Family Science) and Joanne D’Silva (Behavioral and Community Health) were selected to present research at the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health poster session. Many more presented at poster sessions and panel discussions and raised our visibility on an important national stage. Congratulations and thanks to all for representing us so well!

I was energized by the reception event we held, which brought together many of our successful University of Maryland School of Public Health alumni, fearless students, loyal friends, and tireless faculty and staff who have helped to build our SPH community over the past ten years. Watch the new SPH video we debuted at the event, and share it with colleagues and friends! I also had the pleasure of connecting with several colleagues at the meeting, including former U.S. Surgeons General David Satcher and Vivek Murthy, as well as current Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

I was deeply honored to be recognized by the American Medical Association on Nov. 11 with a Distinguished Service Award. The organization noted my past leadership as Deputy and Acting Surgeon General, during which time I traveled to Liberia to command the only U.S. Government hospital treating Ebola patients during the 2015 crisis.

Partnering with global and local communities to promote health and well-being and prolong lives is at the core of public health. In the global health realm, our students with Public Health Without Borders are continuing to grow health education programs developed with communities in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Peru and India. On this #GivingTuesday, please consider supporting their work by donating to the Public Health Without Borders crowdfunding campaign on the UMD Launch site. Funds will be used to support all projects, including a new partnership that addresses violence against women in India, and need-based student travel scholarships.

Your social media currency could help support a different student campaign to get the attention of late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel! Our students would like to invite him to be the keynote speaker for the Spring 2018 UMD School of Public Health commencement. Using the hash tag #bringjimmy2UMD, they have begun sharing their pleas for Kimmel’s consideration, recognizing how he has become a respected national thought leader on public-health topics including vaccination, the Affordable Care Act, and gun control. I appreciate their enthusiasm!

On a local note, I commend our SPH research team, led by Dr. Luisa Franzini, who contributed to a new report that will inform strategies to improve health in five of Maryland’s rural counties. The research was commissioned by the Maryland Health Care Commission and conducted in partnership with the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis at NORC (University of Chicago). It is a great demonstration of our land grant mission to translate science to improve the lives of Marylanders and inform healthy public policy.

Last, but not least, I’d like to thank the SPH faculty and staff who are hosting students at their Thanksgiving tables this year. Coordinated by one of our doctoral students, Izzie Skracic, the “Be Our Guest” program connects students who may be far from home with host families for the holiday. This year is the first time the SPH has participated, but I am sure it won’t be the last!

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and safe holiday. Read more SPH news in this month’s e-newsletter.

Boris's signature




Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH
Dean and Professor