Welcome to a New Academic Year
September 25, 2018
As we begin a new academic year at our School, we have much to be grateful for. This year, we welcome a total of 18 undergraduate students, 156 masters students, and 21 doctoral students. Our students come from many parts of the United States and from 13 different countries. We welcome them and everything we know they will bring to our school: their experiences and life stories, their curiosity and questions, their impatience, their passion, their desire to learn things and do something with what they learn. We know they will ask, demand, suggest and push us to be better, to do good work and to make it count.
We also welcome five terrific new faculty who will be joining us this academic year. Their work spans research methods, epidemiology, health economics, health policy, health and human rights and global health. They will bring new ideas, energy and expertise to further strengthen our work. The areas they focus on are broad-ranging and of great public health relevance: how can we best use biostatistical methods to understand the impact of the social world on health? How can complex systems thinking help us design interventions to improve health in cities? What are the key challenges and opportunities to improve health in the slums and informal settlements that are growing all over the world? What does a health and human rights approach really mean for global health? What are the links between politics and health? How do health care policy and health care delivery affect health equity and the health of immigrants?
We are fortunate to have truly stellar professional staff in both administrative and research roles. This year, we welcome several new staff. Our staff are the backbone of all our efforts. They support, guide, and help expand our educational, research, and practice mission in innumerable ways. They patiently and expertly deal with many, many tasks day in and day out. They are always here, troubleshooting, fixing and organizing in so many ways. This too, we are grateful for.
Over the past year, our School has implemented a number of new educational initiatives including launching our new MPH curriculum with an integrated core and new minor options. We have several new master and doctoral programs and are revising existing programs and expanding our online and hybrid offerings. This last year alone, our research expenditures grew by more than 40 percent, a truly outstanding accomplishment. Most importantly, we continue to produce impactful evidence that can be used to improve population health. In a testament to our commitment to blending research with practice, last April, we were recognized as a leader in community service and civic engagement by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health through the inaugural Harrison Spencer Award.
Last but not least, we are a School with a mission. This is what attracted many of us to our School and what continues to attract others. Our mission is reflected in a commitment to the three reinforcing goals of generating the best scientific evidence, putting it into practice and promoting equity and social justice. I see this everyday in the people I run into in the hallways, in the students I talk to, and in the many, many people inside and outside the school that I meet with day in, day out.
There is, of course, so much work to do. It is easy to get discouraged by threats to science, threats to equity and justice, ignorance, false divisiveness, racism and prejudice, and economic and social systems that threaten our environment and our health. All these things are critical to public health. But, there is still hope and possibility in who we are, in our diversity of backgrounds and experiences, in what we know, in what we can figure out, in the partnerships and alliances that we can build, in what we can do together. I look forward to building on all these things, with you, in the year ahead.
You can see our 2018 Pinning Ceremony photo album on Facebook.
Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH
Dean and Distinguished Professor, Epidemiology, Dornsife School of Public Health