SPHHS welcomes alumni back to campus

Dec 31 2012
Photo: Guests greet each other at the Fall Alumni Celebration.

Well over 100 alumni, faculty, students, and friends turned out on Saturday, September 29, 2012 to attend the School of Public Health and Health Sciences’ 3rd Annual Fall Alumni Celebration. The alumni reunion event included a social hour and a short awards ceremony honoring former SPHHS faculty member Dr. Harris Pastides and student scholarship recipients.

The Fine Arts Center Atrium again was the backdrop for the event, providing an opportunity for alumni to catch up with former classmates and professors. SPHHS staff welcomed guests, who enjoyed a catered breakfast.

Five students representing each of the School’s four departments presented “student highlights” to open the awards ceremony that followed the social hour. Samantha Downie, a graduate student in Communication Disorders; Nina Moore, a doctoral candidate in Kinesiology; Jeffrey Larnard, an undergraduate Nutrition major; Jessica He, an undergraduate Public Health major; and Danny Feldman, a graduate student in Public Health, spoke movingly about their personal experiences as students in the SPHHS, touching on everything from their education and research experiences to their opportunities to study abroad and work in the community.

Dean Marjorie Aelion followed, presenting the SPHHS Award for Significant Contributions to Dr. Harris Pastides, the current president of the University of South Carolina. A former SPHHS professor who served on the faculty from 1980-1998, rising to Professor of Epidemiology and Chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Dr. Pastides was recognized for his ongoing contributions to the field of public health and health sciences, and for his continuing efforts to help improve the nation’s health, quality of life, and well-being.

Photo (from left): Marjorie Aelion, Harris Pastides, William A. Darity, Sr., Patricia Pastides, George Cernada

After leaving UMass Amherst, Dr. Pastides joined the University of South Carolina as the dean of the School of Public Health; the school was renamed the Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health in honor of its benefactor in 2000. Dr. Pastides was later appointed vice president for research and health sciences, serving as the university’s chief research officer and steering the Division of Health Sciences through a continued period of faculty and research growth.

On August 1, 2008, Dr. Pastides was elected by the university's board of trustees to serve as the 28th president of the University of South Carolina. Under his leadership, the university's student population has grown to record levels. He continues to spearhead nontraditional programs to increase university access and affordability.

Among his numerous appointments, Dr. Pastides is a member of the Board of Directors of the River Alliance in Columbia, SC and ad hoc member of the South Carolina Medical Association’s Childhood Obesity Taskforce. He serves on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and the NCAA Executive Committee, and has recently been appointed to the NCAA Child Sexual Abuse Endowment Task Force. Dr. Pastides also works with the America’s Manufacturing Initiative of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness and is involved with the Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project.

Dr. Pastides and his wife, Patricia, received a warm welcome from a large group of former students and faculty, past and present, who turned out to visit with Dr. Pastides and to honor him for his many accomplishments. During his acceptance speech, Dr. Pastides recalled with great affection – and humor – his tenure on campus, in particular his hiring by Dean Emeritus William A. Darity, Sr.

Photo: Corinne A. Johnson Memorial Scholarship recipients Marcella Felde (third from left) and Kiera Milewski (center) with Dean Marjorie Aelion and the Galvin family.

Dean Aelion also recognized the School’s 2012 student award recipients, many of whom were in attendance at the ceremony, before turning the podium over to Associate Deans Dan Gerber and Elaine Puleo to announce the winners of the 2012 Corinne A. Johnson Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship, which honors the memory of the late Corinne Johnson ’80, a UMass Amherst alumna known for her spirit of volunteerism and leadership, was awarded to Marcella Felde, an undergraduate Public Health Sciences major, and to Kiera Milewski, an MPH candidate. Both scholarship recipients have a strong academic record, a long history of volunteer work, and a demonstrated dedication to public health. Ms. Johnson’s sister, Carol Morris Galvin, attended with her husband and daughters to extend their congratulations to the winners.

The SPHHS will host its 4th annual Fall Alumni Celebration this fall semester. If you’d like to be involved in the event planning, please contact Patrick Freeman at pfreeman@schoolph.umass.edu.