Dean’s Message – February 2023
This month was filled with exciting news. We heard from UMass system President Marty Meehan who our next chancellor will be: Dr. Javier Reyes, currently interim chancellor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. I am excited to have at the helm a fellow Latino who has been a supporter of diversity excellence, engaging communities with university activities, and building a welcoming climate for all individuals. He is a strong advocate of transformative educational practices (e.g., internships, community services, immersion in real-world experiences). One of his comments concerning Black History Month really resonated with me – that it should not be the only month where we offer programming showcasing the amazing work of Black in America, but rather a celebration of what we do every day at UMass to educate, highlight, and support the work of Blacks in America.
In that vein, I am delighted to announce that we have successfully hired our first fulltime assistant dean for diversity, equity and belonging-- Dr. Rodmon King. This fulfills a promise we made over two years ago that in order for public health and health sciences to fulfill its vision to “Serve, Inspire, and Improve Quality of Life and Health Equity for the Commonwealth and Beyond” we must have an individual on the senior leadership team who has the expertise, talent, and skillset to inspire the best in everyone, regardless of their “ism,” in a civil and respectful manner, and who has made this their mission to lead our efforts in the school. Dr. Rodmon King possess these attributes and we are thrilled to have him here at UMass. Please join me in welcoming him to our community.
I also want to highlight and applaud the work of our Black faculty: Linnea Evans (HPP), Sofiya Alhassan (KIN), Lindiwe Sibeko (NUTR), Raphael Arku (EHS), and Nathaniel Whitmal (SLHS). Through their research they are investigating aspects of our social, environmental, and biological factors that contribute to health disparities with an aspiration of developing programs and/or policies which will promote health equity and a better world for all. In the classroom, they serve as role models and mentors to our BIPOC students. And as with all our faculty, they promote growth mindset through classroom discussion and activities that encourages students to be aware of one’s biases, the need for cultural humility, and how to respectfully engage in difficult discussions.
Lastly, I want to make sure our community is aware that The Office of Equity and Inclusion is accepting applications for 2023-24 Campus Climate Improvement Grants from March 1-17. Undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to submit their proposals for projects that thoughtfully address challenges to climate and belonging, either locally or campus-wide.
Finally, please remember to support and attend our inaugural Health Innovators Challenge event on March 8th from 1 to 3pm in LSL S330 with a reception to follow. See you all there.