Message from the Dean

June 2017

Colleagues:

I really enjoy spring in Louisville. This year my wife, Karan, and I hosted friends and family for Thunder Over Louisville (and survived the rain). Then a few weeks later I had the privilege of participating in our Graduation Celebration, Doctoral Hooding, and Commencement. I want to applaud this group for all they have accomplished thus far and thank their family and friends, and SPHIS faculty and staff, who cheered them on toward this important milestone.

Now it’s June and we are planning and looking forward. There are many things going on and I want to touch on several areas that affect all of us.

I will start with the state of the university. There is a growing sense of optimism in the President’s Office about the near term future. Clearly, we are working within a complex situation. Where state support for post-secondary education was cut 13 of the last 16 years and is flat this year. Tuition also will remain unchanged for next year—UofL is the only university in the Commonwealth working that model. And findings from the forensic audit have been released to the Board of Trustees. Leadership believes the corner is just in front of us; if we are able to meet our fiscal goals during Academic Year 2017-18, we can begin strategic investments in 2019. That would be a welcome set of events.

At the national level, the Trump administration continues to push policies that are not data driven; threaten the incredible gains Kentucky made in health care coverage and access; curtail many federally supported public health initiatives (e.g., food assistance, housing support, education, public health training centers); and roll back environmental protections dramatically. On the global scene, the Zika virus seems to have lost the spotlight of a year ago—perhaps because the world is not converging on Rio for the Olympics -- but summer outbreaks will likely be greater than last year in the southern regions of Florida and Texas. Storms continue to become increasingly violent.  And the threat of terrorism remains “huge”. The social determinants sit at the root of all of these evils. 

Is there any doubt that the need for public health professionals in leadership positions remains paramount?

It is against this landscape that we must set our course for next year. We anticipate strong enrollment numbers again this fall. This follows two substantial growth years when our overall student count is about 2 ¼ times what it was just four years ago—with most of that growth occurring in our new undergraduate programs. Our faculty are reviewing and updating program curricula and courses to ensure high quality student experiences. Our MPH concentration in global health with a specialization on maternal and child health beings this fall. The MS in Health Data Analytics is in the throes of internal university review. We are excited about all of these offerings and firmly believe they will lead to continuing student growth and meaningful community engagement.

To all of our students, alumni, supporters, faculty and staff—thank you for what you do. It is now more important than ever.

May you have a healthy and happy summer. 

Craig

 

 

 

Craig H. Blakely, PhD, MPH
Dean, School of Public Health and Information Sciences

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