David Buchanan, professor of community health education, retired at the end of August after serving as a faculty member for 29 years, including the past three years as chair of the department of health promotion and policy.
“When the department of public health was converted back to its three former departments in 2015, David took a leadership role as he has often done in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) and agreed to serve as chair of the department of health promotion and policy,” says Marjorie Aelion, dean of SPHHS. “He did a remarkable job in those three years, and was instrumental in hiring new faculty, growing the department, and establishing the William A. Darity Sr. Graduate Scholarship. This was in addition to continuing his own scholarship, and serving as director of the Institute for Global Health. David has worked tirelessly to support the department and the school; his dedication and loyalty are unparalleled.”
Associate dean Daniel Gerber, a longtime colleague, said, “David influenced many of us, including myself, to become public health academics and we are all grateful for his mentorship.”
Beginning in 1989 as an assistant professor in what was then the School of Public Health, Buchanan earned a national reputation as a top academic in the field of public health ethics, humanistic program design, substance abuse and international health. His work led him to numerous collaborations across the globe, including in Russia, Afghanistan, Iran, China, Vietnam, South Africa, and Haiti. His many international efforts led the university to appoint him as the founding director of its newly created Institute for Global Health in 2006.
The recipient of multimillion-dollar grant funding through the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies, Buchanan has most recently focused his research efforts in Massachusetts.
Working with assistant professor Louis Graham, he serves as co-principal investigator on a five-year, community-based participatory research (CBPR) project with Springfield’s Men of Color Health Awareness (MOCHA) group. The ongoing collaboration is a CBPR investigation of chronic disease prevention in older, low-income African-American men, researching ways to enhance MOCHA’s already successful support of African-American men’s health and skills for coping with stress, as well as collecting data on MOCHA’s approach that will demonstrate the value of the program as a national model.
Buchanan also recently served as co-director of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health-funded Marijuana Baseline Health Study, working with assistant professor of health policy and management Jennifer Whitehill to establish baseline standards on statewide marijuana use and possible health consequences. The study caps more than 35 years in the field of public health studying issues surrounding substance abuse, beginning in the San Francisco Bay area after completing his master’s degree and continuing to prevention programs in Holyoke and Amherst and a National Institute of Drug Abuse-funded research project on HIV risk among injection drug users in Springfield.
A prolific writer, Buchanan has published more than 125 peer-reviewed articles, reports, books, and book chapters to his credit, among them works on the ethics of health promotion and on conducting research with high-risk populations, focusing in particular on illicit drug users from poor and minority backgrounds.
He has served as a reviewer for numerous peer-reviewed journals, including the International Quarterly of Community Health Education, for which is editor-in-chief.
His numerous courses include social justice and public health, international health, program planning, program evaluation, principles of community health education, and public health ethics, among others. He has delivered countless lectures on a variety of pressing public health issues in the U.S. and abroad.
In addition to his administrative and leadership roles on campus, Buchanan has devoted countless hours to his community through local health councils and boards of health and as a member of professional organizations including the American Public Health Association, the Massachusetts Public Health Association, and the Society for Public Health Education.