Deciding on UNC, who’s in charge of our health and the budget…still

Why come to UNC-Chapel Hill?

There is an interesting conversation on a student forum in which students are discussing whether to go to Columbia for a degree in health promotion or to UNC-Chapel Hill for health policy. (Of course, I think they should come here!) They talked about the welcoming atmosphere and good interactions between students and faculty at our Gillings School of Global Public Health. Some other things to consider: our Health Policy and Management department gives has a fabulous advisor, Jeffrey Simms, MSPH, Director of Professional Development and Alumni Relations, who students them line up internships and jobs. (Other people help, as well.) That kind of support is worth a lot. Also, the department is rated in the top few health policy departments in the country. The faculty are superb, so are the students, and the department is diverse in terms of race/ethnicity and students’ backgrounds. The vast majority of our graduates find jobs, and, over time, they land in high ranking positions in government, industry, academia, and non-profit sectors. Students are very involved in the department and have lots of opportunities to collaborate with one another and faculty on projects.

The budget story continues

I am glad the governor found an additional $1 billion, but that isn’t going to solve our financial problems at UNC-Chapel Hill although it might make them a bit less painful. I feel badly that we must resort to tuition increases, but it is one of the few options we have to maintain quality. It’s been estimated that students pay only about 20% of the cost of education. We are in the bottom tier of schools of public health for cost of tuition, faculty salaries and some other important indicators of competitiveness. We cannot continue to deliver quality education without some respite from lost revenue. We will do our best to provide support to students who need it.

People keep asking when we will know our budget. It’s a long process, and we probably won’t have a final budget until late summer. We know for sure that we are giving up another 3.5% of non-recurring funds March 1st, and on July 1st, we will receive a permanent budget cut of 5%. Other permanent cuts will follow, but we don’t know the exact number yet. We are constantly juggling and trying to stay on top of rumors while doing responsible projections and scenarios. I am impressed by how diligently chairs, other unit heads, business managers and folks in our central business and finance offices are working to minimize layoffs. There is good news; state revenue is increasing. That means better days ahead.  Dean Mike Smith of the School of Government did a fabulous blog post that explains a lot of the mystery behind the State’s budget woes.

It’s partly up to us

A provocative article by Tom Campbell in the Citizen-Times, was headlined It’s Up to You, a take-off on the Kay Kyser song written in 1945 when it was discovered that many North Carolinians were too unhealthy and unfit to join the military. Citizens were exhorted to eat healthier, exercise more and practice other recommended behaviors. We know a lot more now than in 1945 about how to live healthier lives, but our state still is in the bottom quartile of states—37th healthiest. A lot of it is up to us—to maintain healthy weight, exercise regularly, not smoke, drink alcohol moderately or not at all, get regular cancer check-ups, maintain healthy blood pressure. But some part of our health is due to other factors — our genes, environment, access to health care, how much education we have and income. We also know that ill health occurs more in those who are minority, low income and people with less formal education. In public health, we must continue to pay attention to people who are underserved, minority, poor and ignored.

Happy Monday. Barbara

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