United Arab Emirates meetings, budget, exams and vacations

Last week

Last week ran in super speed as will this one. The closer we get to the end of a term, the faster we all run. That includes faculty, staff and students. It is hard to believe that winter commencement is a week from today (I am writing this Sunday night.)

4dsc_0026.jpgA delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), led by His Excellency Secretary General Majid Al Mansouri, visited the School as part of a site visit for the contract Environmental Sciences and Engineering (ESE) has with The Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi (EAD). We are conducting a comprehensive environmental assessment and making recommendations for mitigation of risks and active steps to improve the environment. What’s really exciting is that we are collecting data at multiple levels, such as household, individual 1dsc_0008.jpgand community, and many of the collection methods are state-of-the-art (such as David Leith’s air monitors). In addition to environmental data, we also are collecting data about what people eat, their exercise and related issues. The society is in such a state of development that everything has changed rapidly in less than 50 years—that includes peoples’ diets. The project is multi-agency within the UAE, but at the School here, it is multi-departmental as well.

We had dinner Monday night at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. It was an impressive group that included not just the delegation and members of our faculty, staff and student body, but a number of local notables, including state legislators Sen. Ellie Kinnaird (D-Orange) and Representatives Verla Insko (D-Orange) and Bill Faison (D-Orange), as well as Don, Jennifer and Chelsea Holzworth, Joan Gillings, Dan Pollitt, Michael Cucchiara and many others. As usual, Jerry Salak showed that he really knows how to throw a party.

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We had three full days of meetings and various tours. Jacqueline MacDonald, PhD, MS, Assistant Professor, ESE, is overall PI, with Ivan Rusyn, PhD, MD, Associate Professor, ESE, Andrew F. Olshan, PhD, MS, Chair and Professor, Epidemiology and Melinda Moore, MD, MPH, Senior Health Researcher, RAND Corporation as co-PIs. We have a great team. For more about the project, see our Web site.

Acting NIH director Raynard Kington, MD, announced the new head of NIEHS to be Linda S. Birnbaum, PhD, MS, DABT, ATS. She seems to be really a great choice and happens to be an adjunct professor in ESE.

5home_announcements_world_b.jpgHave you seen the beautiful quilt hanging in splendid color in the Michael Hooker Research Center atrium? It’s really an impressive sight.  The kite hanging in the School’s atrium features quilt squares honoring people living with HIV. A collaboration of the School’s Student Global Health Committee and the annual N.C. AIDS Walk + Ride fundraiser, the project is displayed in recognition of World AIDS Day, December 1.

More bad budget news

It was another depressing week in terms of the national budget—over 500,000 jobs lost in the most recent unemployment news. A friend was waiting to hear whether his name would be added to that list. It feels closer. At the School, we are doing various projections to determine how we would deal with different levels of budget cuts should the state income tax projections turn out to be far less than needed. Leaders across the School have been discussing budget issues. We all feel the pain of cuts. We especially want to protect the School’s human capital as we make budget cuts. The School now has a great finance team, led by Charlotte Nunez-Wolff, EdD. If only they could print money! 🙂

Final exams and vacations

Our students have been studying hard from what I can tell. I see them first thing in the morning and then see many of them late at night when I leave work. Best wishes to everyone for good exams and great vacations. We’ll miss you!

I know it is going to get better. I just wish it would hurry up! Happy Monday. Barbara

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