While this issue of Continuum was going to print, President Paxson and Provost Locke announced my decision to step down as Dean effective September 1, 2017. Since my arrival at Brown 16 years ago, I have focused on working with colleagues to build the Program in Public Health into the now fully accredited School of Public Health. With the School’s notable strengths in research and educational programs, it is an opportune time to recruit new leadership to take the reins for the future. I have immensely enjoyed my role as Dean and look forward to remaining on the faculty to participate in research, teach, and mentor students, faculty, and staff.
This issue of Continuum highlights the work that our faculty, students, and staff are doing together to foster an environment that acknowledges and celebrates diversity. Within the School of Public Health, students are being exposed to increasing opportunities to learn about the health of diverse populations, both in the classroom and through hands-on experiences nationally and internationally. Many of our faculty, research centers, and partners, including the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Rhode Island Public Health Institute, are exploring ways in which a population health approach can be employed to address the serious disparities in health outcomes experienced by those in our community. I wish to note that Dr. Lynn Hernandez, Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, is currently applying her research expertise in developing culturally appropriate interventions as the new Director of Inclusion Programs for Brown University. My own research on health of aging populations has documented differences in health status and service use and outcomes among various racial and ethnic groups. My teaching in qualitative methods illustrates the importance of developing research strategies that are sensitive to cultural differences and to listening to the voices of the populations we hope to serve.
We love to share success stories about School of Public Health Alumni! This issue features Larry Warner MPH’13 and the work that he does at the Rhode Island Foundation. I recently enjoyed getting together with Larry and many other Brown University Public Health alumni at the American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting in Denver. The theme of this year’s APHA meeting is Creating the Healthiest Nation – Ensuring the Right to Health. APHA’s president, Camara Jones gave a moving presentation on the importance of understanding racism and its impact on health. As noted on the APHA website “All people deserve the opportunity to achieve the highest level of health. Moving toward health equity means we must value all people equally, promote prevention and zero in on the social determinants of health.” Our School of Public Health Diversity and Inclusion plan outlines the steps that we are taking to address these important issues. I am pleased that the work of our alumni, students, faculty, and staff reflects the values of the APHA and Brown University.