When I began my position as Dean of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in early January, 2009, I reflected in my initial welcome message that the SPHHS was well poised to grow and build upon its already outstanding accomplishments. Our faculty and students were energetic and committed, our research funding and production had been steadily increasing, and our outreach efforts had tremendous impact upon our regional, national, and even global, communities.
I’m pleased to say that our achievements continue to exceed even my high expectations. The Doctoral program in Kinesiology was ranked recently in the top five by both the National Research Council and the National Academy of Kinesiology. The M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology program in the Department of Communication Disorders ranked 30th out of 230 programs nationally by the U.S. News and World Report in 2011.
New efforts are underway to enhance the online MPH program in Public Health Practice. As one of the first fully online MPH programs in the country when it was started in 2001, it has grown to over 210 students. The Nutrition department recently began its accredited fully online MPH degree and interest in this degree is soaring. The School’s undergraduate programs continue to appeal to students. The Public Health undergraduate program began in May 2007 and now has over 434 majors. Overall, undergraduate student numbers across all majors have nearly doubled, increasing from 874 undergraduates in 2008 to 1729 students at the start of the Fall 2013 semester.
Research awards submitted across all departments have increased by more than 60% since 2009, including over $72.4 million in proposals submitted during fiscal year 2013. The SPHHS’ externally-funded research has nearly doubled since 2009 to over $16.1 million in fiscal year 2013, which is significant in the current funding climate. Included in these numbers are funds to create and support the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) study, funded by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, continued funding for the Western Massachusetts Public Health Training Center, and research awards from many federal agencies and foundations including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
None of these accomplishments were easy. They are the result of the time, energy, hard work and commitment of faculty, staff and students. We have been fortunate to hire several excellent junior faculty in all 4 departments and are continuing to hire faculty for the coming academic year. The new energy and outside viewpoints of these individuals enrich the departments and the school and enhance student opportunities. Combined with the energy already present, I feel confident in stating again this year, that the school is well poised to continue to improve and grow.
As the only public accredited School of Public Health in New England, we recognize the importance of research, education, outreach and practice in our mission. I look forward to continuing to work with the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends to make the SPHHS even more productive, and a more welcoming environment for all.
Please join me in supporting the SPHHS in all that it does for the community, the Commonwealth, the nation and the world, as we embark on future initiatives in public health and health sciences.
My best wishes,
C. Marjorie Aelion