Public Health

Holiday week

December 29, 2008


These will be my last words for 2008. It has been great to hear from people who got our holiday e-card — some were alumni who’d lost touch with the School. Welcome back! We love hearing from you.

I hope you had really good holidays. And if they were muted in terms of shopping and spending, I hope they were abundant in love and friendship.

As most people left the School for holiday celebrations, a number of us across the School and UNC worked on projections for how we would deal with budgets cuts of 3%, 5% and 7%. Of course, we’d have liked to just tell President Bowles to take the cuts elsewhere, but that isn’t an option. So, we tried our best to cut services and programs where we could (painful as that is) and to preserve the most important resource we have, our people.

Wednesday afternoon before Christmas, I met with Barry Jacobs, one of our Orange County commissioners. We’d been introduced in August when Chancellor Thorp invited local leaders to a UNC leadership retreat. Chancellor Thorp said he wanted to find ways to help the state economically, and I wanted to follow up on this. Commissioner Jacobs and I talked about how we could work more closely to achieve our common aims. The county is building a processing facility for local foods, and this may be one avenue. There are a lot of questions about the benefits of using local foods, and our School is trying to answer some of them. The Gillings Innovation Lab, led by Professor Alice Ammerman, focuses on a number of topics that relate to local foods and addresses the environmental, economic and health impacts of foods. Local foods may (but do not always) have a smaller carbon footprint because they do not travel thousands of miles. They also are likely to put dollars into the local community, and may be healthier because they are fresher.  In addition, our Nutrition department has been working with the Atrium Café to sell fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, when they are available. And I have told our caterers that when we have events, I want them to use local foods whenever possible. Our School also could work with other parts of UNC to show people how local foods can be purchased and used.

It’s been a good week to catch up on journal articles, work on a slide presentation for our External Advisory Committee and start working on our School’s 2009-2010 budget submission. Because I have been the only person in the Dean’s Office for a couple days, I have been answering phones, and it has been interesting to talk with a number of applicants who were seeking information.

I am trying to learn yet another PDA (personal digital assistant) as part of what seems like an interminable quest to get a device that accurately synchs with our UNC Oracle calendar. Worse than having no calendar at all is having one that seems to inadvertently delete items — causing me to miss appointments occasionally. Anyone who knows me would know this creates a major crisis. Anyway, a few days into the new Fuze gives me hope that we may have found something that works. Joseph Love, in our information services group, worked really hard to learn yet another PDA so that he could help me adapt to the new device. As dean of a school at a public university, I should be reachable most hours of the day, making a working PDA a pretty important communication tool for me to have. Now I am carrying three but hope to give up one of them soon — and make it available to someone else in the School.

aaa464672012207_0_alb.jpgOn December 24 and 25, my husband Bernard, labs Tyler and Faulkner, and I discovered some new trails in the area where we live. It’s amazing how lovely the woods are this time of year (Robert Frost had it right.). We walked for nearly 4.5 miles and did not see another person. It may be snowy in Michigan, icy in New Hampshire and cold and rainy in New York City, but here in North Carolina it’s been in the 60s.

This week, we count down as the year ends, and we welcome the new one. It has been a year of great highs and lows, but we are ready for change.

Happy Monday and enjoy the week. Barbara

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The views expressed in this blog are Barbara Rimer’s alone and do not represent the views and policies of The University of North Carolina or the Gillings School.