The July 4th holiday, a visit from Chancellor and Provost and our changing Web site

July 4th holiday

fireworks-2004pdphotoorg2.jpgHope everyone had a good holiday. Aside from the fireworks and time away from work, it is good to spend a little time thinking about the history of this country and where we are today. I can’t imagine living anywhere else, but there are a lot of problems we must fix, including growing inequalities in health care, housing and income.

We had two days of really ferocious storms. Sunday morning, my husband and I rode our bikes along the Bolin Creek Trail, and it was staggering how many trees and really big branches were down. Periodically, we had to walk our bikes over trees and branches. I assume some of the devastation is the result of prolonged drought weakening the trees.

Visit from Chancellor and Provost

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Last week, we hosted a visit from Chancellor Thorp, on his second day in his new position, and Provost Gray-Little. It was a great opportunity for us to inform the new Chancellor about the School’s strengths, current activities and some of the challenges we face. We talked about a couple of these challenges, including the need for more scholarship support for our students, especially multi-year awards that give students the peace of mind that comes from knowing they can focus on their education instead of juggling multiple jobs, as many of our students now do.

We also showed them how the downturn in federal funding is affecting our School and departments, some more than others. Thanks to three outstanding faculty members/Principal Investigators (Drs. Baric, Morrissey and Vizuete) and a number of people across the School (including Ramona DuBose, OJ McGhee and Tom Laney), we created brief videos with three PIs for Gillings Innovation Laboratories (listed above). Each of the PIs talked enthusiastically and compellingly about their GILs. These projects (and the others as well) aim to solve important, challenging public health problems using novel solutions and with a real sense that GIL support is letting the teams solve problems faster and better. We also visited Steve Meshnick’s lab. Both Provost Gray-Little and Chancellor Thorp were engaged throughout the visit, appreciated the School and asked excellent questions. We should have the videos available on our Web site later in the week. We will create videos for each of the GILs. Thanks to Mae Beale and Jenny Lewis for their help in creating briefing materials for the visit.

While I was sorry when Chancellor Moeser announced his intention to step down, I am confident that Chancellor Thorp is going to be a truly outstanding leader. His understanding of the University is deep and broad. In addition, he is an unbelievably smart, enthusiastic and intellectually curious person. Bernadette Gray-Little is a very important member of the UNC leadership team, and I really value her leadership and understanding of our School and the University.

Our changing Web site

Working with a local company, Jennings, we are in the process of dramatically redesigning, and I hope, improving our Web site so it is easier to navigate and more relevant to and useful for applicants and current students as well as others. We all agree we need more content that is engaging and interactive. This includes videos and access to social networking sites. I really want to encourage people associated with the School to unleash their creativity and to be part of the process so our website will be a living, breathing and evolving voice not just for our School but for public health.

Stay tuned for information from Assistant Dean Felicia Mebane about a photo contest, but don’t wait to send us your photos from work you’ve been doing this summer in North Carolina and around the world. We would like to post them on the School’s Web site and potentially print, frame and display them in our halls. (See “Send us your photos” on the SPH homepage.)

Happy Monday. Best, Barbara

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