School News

SPHHS Celebrates Class of 2012

Graduating seniors at the SPHHS Senior Recognition Ceremony

The School of Public Health and Health Sciences held its Senior Recognition Ceremony on Saturday, May 12, 2012 in the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. The SPHHS ceremony recognized the undergraduate class of 2012, which this year welcomed over 400 graduating seniors into its ranks.

This year’s ceremony featured a welcome address from Dean C. Marjorie Aelion, who thanked families and friends in attendance for the many years of support they provided the graduates while at UMass Amherst. She also recognized the SPHHS faculty who inspired and educated the graduating students and helped to build a solid foundation for careers in public health and the health sciences. Dean Aelion saved the final tribute for the graduating seniors – thanking them for their countless hours of study and labor, their participation in internships and volunteer efforts, and for the dedicated research and lab work that many of them conducted.

Dean Aelion reinforced the School’s mission – and the common purpose that links the departments within the SPHHS – to improve the health, wellbeing, and quality of life of our fellow men and women. With her closing remarks, she welcomed our graduating seniors into the SPHHS’ growing alumni family.

The ceremony also featured remarks from Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Daniel Gerber, who acknowledged student award recipients and presented the SPHHS Outstanding Teacher Award to Frank Rife, Kinesiology, and the SPHHS Oustanding Online Teacher Award to Carol Bigelow, Public Health. Nutrition Department Head Nancy Cohen, Communication Disorders Department Chair Jane Baran, Public Health Department Chair Edward Stanek, and Kinesiology Department Chair Patty Freedson also addressed their student bodies before awarding the graduation medallions to their respective members of the Class of 2012.

The SPHHS Senior Recognition Ceremony helped cap the UMass Amherst Commencement weekend, which featured over a dozen individual ceremonies recognizing graduates from the individual schools and colleges, including Commonwealth Honors College. In addition, the Graduate School held its ceremony on Friday, May 11. The Graduate School ceremony recognized the students (including many within the SPHHS) who earned advanced graduate degrees from the university. Later that same day, the University held its annual Undergraduate Commencement, which welcomed Ted Koppel as its featured commencement speaker. Mr. Koppel, a renowned journalist and former ABC News’ “Nightline” correspondent, was awarded an honorary degree from the university.

Nutrition Hosts 24th Virginia A. Beal Lecture

Guests at the 24th Annual Virginia A. Beal Lecture and Dinner

The Department of Nutrition hosted the 24th Annual Virginia A. Beal Lecture and Dinner on April 30, 2012, in the Amherst Room on the 10th Floor of the Campus Center. The evening celebrated the memory of Professor Virginia Beal, who passed away this December, and focused on child nutrition research and practice, an area near and dear to her heart.

The lecture featured three notable UMass Amherst alumni discussing “The Challenges and Successes of Childhood Nutrition: What Works?” Ann Ferris ‘75, PhD, RD, Director of the Center for Public Health and Health Policy at the University of Connecticut, addressed obesity in children in a talk titled “Turning the Tide on Obesity in Young Children: Interventions that Work.” Ferris discussed the successes and challenges of the Husky Programs, a series of community nutrition outreach programs which seek to provide educational opportunities about healthy food choices, food safety, and physical activity for Connecticut citizens needing assistance.

Jean Anliker ‘85, PhD, RD, of UMass Extension, followed with a presentation on adolescent obesity interventions titled “Moving the Mark in Adolescent Obesity: Interventions that Work.” Anliker discussed her work with the Strength and Power in Nutrition (SPIN) and Challenge! programs, in which she employed social cognitive theory and Lindstrom’s marketing model for tweens to develop highly successful participatory programs that empower adolescents to improve their nutrition habits.

Elizabeth Ward ’84, MS, RD, freelance writer and nutrition consultant, capped the evening’s lectures with a discussion of “Nutrition for Families: Keeping It Real Using Today’s Technology.” Ward discussed how communicating nutrition information and healthy-eating strategies to families are evolving with the advent of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and other Internet-based media outlets.

The Beal Lecture and Dinner also featured an awards ceremony in which the Department recognized the recipients of departmental scholarships including the Virginia A. Beal Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships, the Helen S. Mitchell Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships, and the Peter L. Pellett Graduate Scholarship.

The 2012 scholarship awardees were:

  • Erwin Apaza – Virginia A. Beal Undergraduate Scholarship
  • Elizabeth Lundy – Virginia A. Beal Undergraduate Scholarship
  • Gina Ruscio – Virginia A. Beal Undergraduate Scholarship
  • Shanshan Chen – Virginia A. Beal Graduate Scholarship
  • Catherine Wickham – Virginia A. Beal Graduate Scholarship
  • Lindsey O’Regan – Helen S. Mitchell Undergraduate Scholarship
  • Sharmin Hossain – Helen S. Mitchell Graduate Scholarship
  • Shanshan Chen – Peter L. Pellett Graduate Scholarship

Throughout the course of the evening, Professor Beal’s legacy remained the focus of attention. Beal, a longtime member of the Food Science and Nutrition faculty from 1971 until 1986, was revered by her peers and impacted generations of students through her teaching and research. Department Head Nancy Cohen, along with Professor Emeriti Mokhtar Atallah and Peter Pellett, opened the evening with a moving tribute to the late Professor Beal. Many other alumni and friends shared their remembrances of Beal over the course of the evening.

Established through an endowment from Professor Beal, the annual Virginia A. Beal Lecture Series continues through the generosity of many alumni and friends. Beal presented the first lecture in 1989, and in the intervening years, well-known scholars in the field of nutrition have been invited to speak and honor her. In addition to the lectureship, Professor Beal endowed a series of scholarships to support nutrition students and a fellowship to support a doctoral student in nutrition.

Cohen has announced a fundraising goal of “25 for 25” in which the Department of Nutrition seeks to raise $25,000 by the 25th anniversary of the Virginia A. Beal Lecture and Dinner in an effort to keep the lecture series alive and flourishing. If you’d like to contribute to the Virginia A. Beal Lecture Series, please follow the link here, choose "School of Public Health and Health Sciences" in the "Allocation" drop-down menu, and then select "Virginia Beal Lecture Fund."

For more information on the Virginia A. Beal Lecture series, contact Nancy Cohen at

Kinesiology Launches Walter Kroll Lecture Series

Commonwealth Professor Walter Kroll

The Department of Kinesiology hosted the 1st Annual Walter Kroll Memorial Lecture on April 19, 2012 in the Integrated Sciences Building. The Department launched the annual lecture series to honor the many contributions made by Commonwealth Professor Walter Kroll, one of the founding members of the Department of Exercise Science (later, Kinesiology) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1965.

For over three decades, Professor Kroll conducted novel research in Motor Integration, taught undergraduates in courses such as “Psychology of Coaching,” and mentored graduate students, many of whom began careers in higher education. His continual study of technical advances in a wide variety of fields helped him disseminate research concepts that had a major influence on others. These concepts included the use of intra-class correlation analysis of variance as a reliability instrument, the fractionated reaction time model, the use of multivariate statistical techniques to study, for example, the athlete personality, and neuromuscular stimulation as an impetus for Sensory Imparted Learning.

In the mid-1970s, Walter Kroll was named a Commonwealth Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He was the author of two widely acclaimed books, Perspectives in Physical Education and Graduate Study and Research in Physical Education, and he published over 50 papers during his illustrious career.
Faculty and friends of Commonwealth Professor Walter Kroll

The inaugural lecture focused on “The Legacy of Commonwealth Professor Walter Kroll.” Department Chair Patty Freedson kicked off the event by welcoming the Kroll family, including Walter’s wife Jackie Kroll, and several professor emeriti (all former colleagues of Walter Kroll) who had turned out for the occasion.

Two of Professor Kroll’s doctoral students, Kinesiology Professor Gary Kamen and Robert Gilbert, Associate Professor of Exercise Science and Physical Education at Montclair State University, shared their remembrances of their former faculty advisor. Both noted Kroll’s passion for research and analysis, his unparalleled thoroughness of preparation, and his dedication to his students. He was a demanding mentor, “old school” in many respects, who challenged his students and motivated them to set their own expectations higher.

Waneen Spirduso, Ed.D., Professor Emerita in the Department of Kinesiology and Health at the University of Texas-Austin, delivered the keynote lecture. Spirduso, another protégé of Professor Kroll’s from their days at the University of Texas, noted how Professor Kroll changed her career trajectory and that of their department at the University of Texas, and how his vision and pursuit of excellence helped create a top-five doctoral program at UMass Amherst. His research output was prolific in the pre-computer and pre-Internet days, and his methodology helped set the standards for research design and statistics in the field of Kinesiology. Kroll was a champion of the profession, Spirduso added, who supported the field by publishing in professional journals aimed at “scholars, professionals, and practitioners.”

Most importantly, Kroll left a tremendous heritage of PhD graduates of the highest order. Of his more than 20 doctoral students, she noted, half hold leadership positions and continue to impact the next generation of students, who will then impact the generation after that, and on exponentially.

“The impact of a standout professor never ends,” Spirduso concluded.

In addition to the lecture, the Department also acknowledged three of its exceptional graduate students who had received awards from the American Kinesiology Association. A reception immediately followed the lecture.

For more information on this event, contact Department Chair Patty Freedson by email at

SPHHS Honors National Public Health Week

SPHHS staff members Megan Griffin, Erika MacDonald, and Lori Peterson attend the annual SPHHS Research Day.

The School of Public Health and Health Sciences celebrated a week’s worth of events in honor of “National Public Health Week 2012: A Healthier America Begins Today.” The events highlighted the School’s message of education, research, outreach and practice.

Among the student-centered activities during the week were the undergraduate major in Public Health Sciences’ Poster Internship and Study Abroad Day on April 2, 2012, and the School’s 15th Annual Research Day on April 3, 2012.

The Poster Internship and Study Abroad Day showcased the many internship and study abroad experiences of public health students, and provided peers with an idea of what opportunities are available both locally and globally, what students learn, and the value of practice-based learning. The Western Massachusetts Public Health Training Center also provided information and applications for paid summer internships available throughout the region as part of the School’s $2.5 million Training Center grant awarded by HRSA.

On Research Day, students from all SPHHS departments presented posters of their work. Posters were entered into a faculty-juried session and judged based on research content and presentation. Select individuals received awards for Research and Practice. In addition, Andrea Morand, Kinesiology, was presented with the Delta Omega Honor Society Award. Her winning poster abstract became eligible for further judging by the Delta Omega Society's national committee for possible presentation at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

In addition to those events, the Public Health Sciences program and the Public Health Club co-sponsored a traveling exhibit titled “The Ex-Smokers’ Hall of Fame” on April 3, 2012, in the Student Lounge in the UMass Amherst Student Union Center. The Ex-Smokers’ Hall of Fame celebrates the stories of former smokers who were successful in quitting. The event showcases their personal journeys to being smoke-free. By sharing their strategies for success, members of the Ex-Smokers’ Hall of Fame hope to provide inspiration and support to smokers trying to quit. Their stories illustrate that there is hope for people who attempt to quit. The Ex-Smokers’ Hall of Fame is a joint effort of the Hampshire Council of Governments’ Tobacco Free Community Partnership and the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program.

Also on April 3, 2012, the campus welcomed Pierre Minn, postdoctoral fellow from UCLA, for a talk titled “Where They Need Me: Haitian Health Professionals and International Medical Aid Before and After the 2010 Earthquake.” The event, sponsored by the Five College Program in Culture, Health, and Science, of which the School is a member, included an informal dinner followed by the lecture.

SPHHS student clubs also sponsored a number of other events throughout the week, including workshops on CPR and First Aid Certification and Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, and a screening of the film “Contagion.”