Trip to Deans' Retreat in Vancouver & Tar Heel Team for Kids

Crisis in Vancouver

As I mentioned last week, I left Wednesday to attend the annual Association of Schools of Public Health Deans’ Retreat in Vancouver. Getting to Vancouver from the east coast, especially from RDU, is no simple matter. We had to leave our house at 4:30 AM to make an early morning flight. As I settled into my seat in the car, I realized I had left my pedometer behind, but too late to return to the house. It was worse than forgetting my watch, and I am addicted to my watch. At least, my multiple PDAs tell time. But none of them tell me how many miles I have walked. As I sat on the plane (and there was a lot of sitting for hugely delayed flights), I felt…naked. It is amazing how a device like a pedometer can become part of one’s body and one’s being. It is my feedback loop to assure that I do at least five miles a day. So, as soon as we checked in to our hotel in Vancouver (after a 12 hour journey), my husband and I set off on what we thought would be a simple quest to purchase a pedometer. After two top line sports stores failed to deliver, this looked serious. Here is a city that has to be one of the fittest places on the planet, and no pedometers. Finally, we located one in a drugstore, and my anxiety level began to approach normal levels.

Deans’ Retreat

This was my 4th retreat, and I co-chaired the meeting with Pat Wahl, Dean, University of Washington School of Public Health. I have come to value not only my fellow deans, but also the opportunity to share stories and learn from one another. Turns out so many of the issues we face are shared challenges, like the downturn of the Federal grants budget and its very serious impact on our schools. There now are 40 accredited schools and more likely to come.

One of our most interesting discussions was about how different schools and leaders define global health. I prefer the 2004 IOM definition that our Office of Global Health embraces—health problems that transcend borders (See our Office of Global Health’s site for the full definition and more background.). This is in contrast to more traditional definitions of international health. We’ve seen that most health problems now transcend borders. I emerged feeling even more strongly that our Office of Global Health is right on track, and that global health must be integrated throughout the curriculum; it should not be segregated into a department.

Talking with the other deans left me feeling that there is a tremendous global and national resource in these schools. And our school is one of the best!


Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. It is paradise for health-conscious people—a city of hills, surrounded by mountains and oceans. It seems everyone is walking quickly, biking or running. Maybe pedometers were so hard to find because fitness is such a part of many people’s lives. Here is a picture of Vancouver taken by a colleague at Duke University Penny Hodgson.


After the meeting ended, we were very fortunate to have a little time to explore the city on foot. It is truly magnificent. A very special moment was seeing the Nitobe Memorial Garden (a traditional Japanese Garden) at the University of British Columbia.


PhD students running the NYC Marathon


I was really excited to learn that four of our PhD students, Kiyah Duffey, Noel Kulik, Meghan Slining and Natalie The, are going to run the marathon to raise funds for Tar Heel Team for Kids. I plan to make a personal donation and encourage others to learn more about the cause and our runners and consider making a donation. I ran the marathon the year I turned 40 (quite awhile ago) and will always treasure it as one of the high points of my life.

Back to NC

Monday morning, we reverse the journey, starting again at 4:30 AM. Happy Monday! Barbara

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