Message from the Dean

May 2018

Thunder Over Louisville has come and gone. The marathoners had a beautiful day for the race with the overall winner coming in under two hours and 20 minutes. Spring Meet is underway at Churchill Downs, the winners of Oaks and Derby are in the record books, and Wagner’s is as busy as ever on the backside of the track. All that is to say—it’s May in Louisville and graduation time again!

This year, the School of Public Health and Information Sciences is producing its largest graduating class ever, up 71 percent from four years ago and 14 percent from last year. We continue to support the university’s efforts to increase student enrollment, placing third across the schools and colleges at the university-level in undergraduate growth (by percentage) each of the last three years. Even more exciting is the projections for Fall 2018 graduate student growth, which shows SPHIS in first place! All this is occurring thanks to the hard work of the student services team, the departments, and, of course, the academic public health programs we have available.

As we wind down Fiscal Year 2017-18, it also appears as though we will once again finish second across all UofL schools and colleges in amount of research dollars generated per FTE faculty member. Grants awarded, proposals submitted, and students supported are all up. We also continue to be among the leaders in all metrics associated with community engagement. The successful CDC-funded Youth Violence Prevention Research Center, last fall’s cover story in UofL Magazine, continues to thrive. The center will move its operation to the new Passport Health Plan building at 18th and Broadway when construction is completed in about two years. SPHIS is also coordinating the establishment of a transdisciplinary master’s degree program in community development to operate in the same location.

In addition to all of these exciting developments, we look forward to working with UofL’s new president, Dr. Neeli Bendapudi. She joins us from the provost’s position at the University of Kansas. I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with her in group settings. She is as energetic and articulate as you may has noticed from TV clips. Better still, she comes highly regarded by her peers and students at Kansas. The UofL community is ready for change, and Dr. Bendapudi’s experience and unique perspective will be valuable in setting a new direction.

Let me close by speaking directly to the new graduates. I wish all of you the best of times as you embark on your new career or continue the trajectory already established. We have enjoyed the opportunity to share our thoughts with you in preparing you for those next steps. We are proud of your accomplishments and look forward to watching you continue to grow.  I also want to thank all the friends and family, and the SPHIS faculty and staff, who have supported you in different ways during your studies. And remember, even if you are very happy in your place in life, you’ll never know when a door might open unless you pay attention.

To all of our alumni, I ask that you please keep us informed of your movements. Participate in the alumni association and stay in touch with your colleagues and those of us still at SPHIS. Keep in mind that sometimes your greatest resource will be the growing alumni of the school. Therefore, it is best to remain engaged to ensure easy and regular access to this wonderful network of public health professionals.

Again, best wishes to all our graduates and alumni. To everyone else, we look forward to welcoming you back next semester.

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Dr. Craig Blakely

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