Message from the Dean

Spring 2019

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I am just now starting to get my feet back underneath me following a recent foray to Bayelsa State in southern Nigeria. A small group of us visited following an invitation from Governor Henry Seriake Dickson. We are working on an exciting project with the Governor and his team to assist them with the establishment of an academic health science center at the University of Africa Toro-Orua (UAT). They are well on the way to having of a 500-bed hospital that will be a cornerstone of the operation. Our colleagues in the School of Medicine and the Brown Cancer Center will work jointly with their counterparts in Nigeria on building the medical school curriculum, policies and procedures, hiring initial faculty members, and configuring a new cancer center in Bayelsa State. The hope is that these facilities will become a model for the region.

SPHIS will be engaged in two initiatives initially. First, Bayelsa State will be sponsoring 10 to 15 Nigerian students in fall 2019 who will enroll in SPHIS graduate programs at the master’s and doctoral levels. They will all be coming with full graduate assistantships, supported by the Governor’s imitative, and then be obligated to return to work in Bayelsa State for an agreed upon period of time. Next, we will likely begin at least one joint master’s program in public health with colleagues at UAT with additional collaborative projects to follow. For example, it may come to pass that the new UAT hospital will join our NSF-supported Center for Health Organization Transformation, opening access to incredible research opportunities. We hope that the Bayelsa State projects will provide opportunities for some of our graduate students in global health, health data analytics, etc.

The Vice Chancellor and Provost from UAT, Drs. Etebu and Nasidi, visited Louisville several months ago and will likely be back in a few weeks to continue discussions about details linked to these projects. We also hope to arrange for Drs. Etebu and Nasidi to meet with SPHIS students and discuss public health in Nigeria. A team from UofL, including President Bendapudi, is scheduled to visit Nigeria mid-May. Stay tuned for more details.

In addition to the recently launched MS in Health Data Analytics and new programs in biostatistics, school leadership is rolling out a new accelerated bachelor’s/MPH program (a.k.a. 4+1) —essentially enabling undergraduates who meet admission guidelines to overlap some instruction functionally allowing them to complete four years of undergraduate instruction and two years of master’s instruction in just five years. This could be a great opportunity for students who want to advance their careers quickly. Using data from a recent Association of Schools and Programs in Public Health publication, this could easily add another $1 Million in career earnings. Something to consider.

Before we know it, graduation and Derby will be upon us. The school has continued to grow enrollment at both the undergraduate and graduate levels each year. This may once again be our largest graduation class. I am looking forward to shaking hands with all the graduates in a few weeks.

Best of luck with the semester wrap-up. Enjoy the spring weather. Vote in the primaries.

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Dr. Craig Blakely

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