Dean’s Message – September 2023
We are off and running with the fall semester! There are so many exciting opportunities and events for our community to get involved with and attend. I first want to touch briefly about UMass’ Health Promoting Collective. This past month I attended both the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) conference as well as the first event bringing together all the committee members from each of the four pillars (Health and Wellness, Sustainability, Diversity Equity and Inclusion and the Build Environment) supporting the university’s role as a Health Promoting University. The physical and emotional space that now exists for us to think about systematic ways in which we can create a culture of belonging and wellness is refreshing and invigorating. See below for what commitments we have made to this initiative:
I do encourage you to reflect on what health and wellness means to you and how the university can collectively align our efforts to create an environment where all can flourish, thrive and innovate in ways that are meaningful and impactful in the Commonwealth and beyond. Please be on the lookout for invitations to participate in various activities including a story-telling event conducting by our very own HPP doctoral student, Mira Weil.
I also encourage each of you to help us to improve the health of everyone throughout Massachusetts by completing the state’s Community Health Equity Survey. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will use survey results to improve programs, make decisions about funding and resources, and support policies to improve health inequities.
Second, I want to applaud the work of our colleagues in Social and Behavioral Sciences – led by Sonya Atalay, Provost Professor of Anthropology – on their acquisition of the National Science Foundation grant for the Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges and Science (CBIKS). The center will combine Indigenous knowledges with Western science to address climate change challenges.
As you know, on campus we have programming related to sustainability directed by Kathy Wicks. I want to note two events that highlights the knowledge from the Indigenous community. On October 11th at Hampshire DC, Sherry Pocknett, Mashpee Wampanoag Chef from Rhode Island and the first Indigenous woman to receive the James Beard Award, will join UMass Dining for a special event. And then on October 12th, Juli Vanderhoop, Wampanoag Chef and Tribal Elder from Martha’s Vineyard, will be featured in the series on What Indigenous Foodways Teach Us About Climate Action. Stay tuned for more information about both events.
Third, as you know, we held our first Health Innovators Challenge last year. While we plan to offer that challenge again in the future, I want our students to be aware of and encourage your participation in the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship events that are coming up soon. Please remember that this center is interdisciplinary and we truly need the creativity and problem-solving skills of our students in public health and health sciences if we are to create a more equitable and accessible healthcare system and technology. The center needs help from our faculty, alumni and community supporters as well – to speak at events and serve as judges for competitions. If you are interested in serving in this capacity, please email me at deansiegariz [at] umass [dot] edu (deansiegariz[at]umass[dot]edu).
Here are a few of the events on their upcoming schedule:
1. Minute Pitch: October 4th, 5:00 pm -8:00 pm in the Old Chapel. Open to the public. This is a beginner-friendly competition targeted towards first-year students who must pitch their business plans in under a minute.
2. Innovation & Entrepreneurship Academy Awards Night: November 14th, 4:30 pm- 6:00 pm in the Old Chapel. Open to the public. This event is a grand culmination of several fall competitions and a celebration of the UMass entrepreneurial community.
3. Innovation Challenge: The Final: May 1, 2024 in the Old Chapel. Open to the public. The Innovation Challenge: The Final is the premier competition of Berthiaume, built to foster novel business ideas. Finalists will compete for a prize pool of $60,000.
Finally, I encourage you to join me in attending MOMIX: Alice, a UMass Fine Arts event on October 25th at 7:30 pm in the Fredrick C. Tills Performance Hall. The Dean’s Student Advisory Board selected this event to provide more faculty and student engagement in a fun, outside of the classroom manner. Another event will be selected in the spring. Faculty – I encourage you to buy a ticket and invite some of your students working in your lab or from your class. Students – grab a ticket and ask a faculty or staff member to attend with you. I will see all of you down the rabbit hole….