Dean’s Message – November 2023
I have had the wonderful opportunity to spend the last few days attending meetings in Washington, DC at the National Academies, NIH, and the International Food Information Council for which I serve on the board of trustees. These meetings were filled with stimulating topics such as the use of AI in research and healthcare, setting standards to review evidence for making policy, understanding how the new obesity drugs work, and how we must diversify the workforce in public health, nutrition, and food sciences as well as plan for succession. Reflecting on these experiences, it becomes clear how pivotal our work at the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences is.
This importance can be seen in the articles of this month’s newsletter which describe the amazing work our faculty are doing in the field of substance use and how they are among the most cited researchers contributing to their respective fields. In the realm of education, our faculty's continuous curriculum reviews ensure that our students acquire the necessary skills and knowledge for successful entry into the workforce. Our most recent survey of graduates indicates that within a year of graduating, 51% of undergraduates are employed and another 45% are continuing their education, underscoring UMass' role in shaping the next generation. I encourage our alumni to share their stories with us on what they are currently doing with their careers. This information serves to inspire the current students to stay engaged with all that the university has to offer.
My attendance at these events also provided an opportunity for reconnection with colleagues, some of whom I've known for 25 years, having embarked on our careers together in leadership roles in various organizations such as the American Public Health Association. You will see in this month’s newsletter a picture of our faculty, students, and alumni who attended this year’s meeting in Atlanta. The professional societies that we belong to help to create a community of colleagues who support and advocate for each other. I urge our students and junior faculty to actively engage with these organizations, fostering connections that not only endure a lifetime but also prove incredibly rewarding. The joy derived from catching up and reminiscing with dear colleagues reinforces the passion that led me into the field of public health and nutrition.
Lastly, I want to thank the staff who helped to organize our inaugural Chili Cook-off. We had a blast tasting each other’s chili, cornbread, and desserts. We were delighted that Chancellor Reyes could join us and partake in the fun. These events allow us to mingle, laugh, build trust, and become acquainted with each other outside of our work activities. I hope you will join us next month at two other events that can foster a positive work environment:
- SPHHS Faculty & Staff Holiday Breakfast: Monday, December 18th, 9:00-11:00 am in the Goessmann Red Hallway (across from 245 conference suite).
- UMass Women’s Basketball vs. Albany: Wednesday, December 20th, at 12pm at the Mullins Center. The deans of Nursing, CNS, Engineering, HFA, SPHHS, the Graduate School, and the Libraries are having a competition to see which school/college can garner the most participation. SPHHS friends and family will get a discount on tickets. Don’t forget to wear your SPHHS t-shirts!
And finally, for our students who we know are in the final throws of the semester, we will be hosting coffee/tea/treats breaks on Wednesday and Thursday of each week moving forward until the end of the semester (12/6, 12/7, 12/13, 12/14) in the foyer of Arnold House. Students, please remember to practice self-care during these final weeks, and good luck with completing your final course assignments.