Dean's Corner

January to March 2016

As we have been trumpeting for some time, 2016 is our 10th anniversary year, and it has now arrived. 

On March 17, 2006, the Board of Governors of the University of Alberta approved the creation of the School of Public Health, the newest faculty on campus, and the only stand-alone school of public health in Canada at the time. So on the same day, 10 years later, some 140 faculty, staff, students and friends gathered at our home base in the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy and celebrated our decade of remarkable achievements. 

View our Flickr album below to see the celebrations. 

10th Anniversary Celebration Flickr Album

A very happy birthday

Wendy Rodgers, deputy provost, and Michael Phair, newly appointed chair of the Board of Governors, brought greetings on behalf of the University. We consider Wendy Rodgers a friend, and she knows a lot about us—having served on our Faculty Evaluation Committee as a member of the President’s Review Committee.

We are very honoured that Michael Phair found the time to come to this event so soon after his appointment on February 24, 2016, given his extremely busy schedule. Much of what he has done in his career, in public service and in the non-profit sector, is in fact public health. His appointment to the Board has brought excitement to the university community. We look forward to his leadership and stewardship at the helm. Among his many contributions to community organizations, it is important to recognize his leadership in the early years of the AIDS epidemic as founder and first chair of the AIDS Network of Edmonton, and the first chair of the Canadian AIDS Society.

At the same event, we “unveiled” a stylized wall map of the world with photos of faculty, staff, students and alumni engaging in various activities. Superimposed on the map are glass panels stating our mission, vision, values and pledge. The School of Public Health Pledge had just been approved by Faculty Council in February. Beginning with the Fall 2016 term, the pledge will be taken by all students each year at orientation.

I invite you to see a new section on our website called Our History. It includes a timeline highlighting key milestones, faculty appointments, and accomplishments of our students, faculty, staff and alumni over the last decade.

Promoting maternal health on International Women’s Day

March 8th is International Women’s Day, and it is fitting that we chose this day to celebrate and promote maternal health with the third public lecture in our This is Public Health (TIPH) series. Zubia Mumtaz spoke on Dying in Childbirth: Delivering Solutions to Mothers Around the Globe. She described in detail the global crisis in maternal mortality, examined its causes and offered proposals to redress the inequalities. The TIPH lecture is held twice a year featuring some of our faculty researchers and introducing them to the general public. In case you missed it, you are invited to access the presentation online and look below for the photos in our Flickr album.

This is Public Health - Dying in Childbirth Flickr Album

Research continues to grow

Kim Raine, Katerina Maximova and Candace Nykiforuk received from Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions a five-year grant ($1.25 million) under its Cancer Prevention Research Opportunity program. The team will study the impact of benchmarking food environments on policies and actions to promote healthy eating in reducing cancer risk.

Alberta Economic Development and Trade awarded Nick Ashbolt $597,688 to develop a premise plumbing biofilm facility to inform pathogen risk management.

Patrick Hanington received $215,625 from Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions for his project on rapid multi-parameter assessment of natural recreational waters in Alberta.

The Prairie Node of the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM) led by Cam Wild received $1.1 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to conduct a pragmatic randomized controlled trial comparing models of care in treating prescription opioid misuse.

Donate to the Dean’s Anniversary Fund

To mark our 10th anniversary, I have established the Dean’s Anniversary Fund. The fund will be used to enhance and support the educational experience of students enrolled in our programs. During our anniversary year, our goal is to raise $350,000 to guarantee support for practicum placements for all MPH students. Donations are now being accepted in our online giving portal.

Family fun at the rink

Many of our international students and faculty—and indeed even homegrown ones—have their first taste of the sport of curling at our annual Curlapalooza, held in January this year at the Shamrock Curling Club. After a brief lesson on the rudiments of the sport, 48 members of the School community, together with their friends and families, sallied forth onto the ice, which soon reverberated with the sound of rock hitting rock amidst squeals of delight. The photo album is shown below.

Curlapalooza Flickr Album

New student association executive takes office

We look forward to working closely with Jacqueline Noga (president), Christine McKernan (vice-president), and other newly elected officers of the School of Public Health Students’ Association (SPHSA). Visit the SPHSA page on our website to see a full list of the executive, directors-at-large and student representatives on various School committees.

Among the first tasks of the executive is to develop a discussion paper and proposal for action to help engender a culture of respect within the School community.

Getting ready for re-accreditation

As we constantly remind ourselves and everyone else, we are still the only school of public health in Canada accredited by the US-based Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). When first accredited in 2012, it was for five years. Simple arithmetic indicates that in 2017, we shall be re-surveyed by CEPH. Indeed we have already been officially notified by CEPH and a date of the site visit chosen. A working group headed by Felicity Hey has begun the tedious but critically important work of collecting the data needed for the self-study and to demonstrate our compliance with the multitude of evaluation criteria.

As a “dry run” we invited Sylvia Furner, professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, to visit us in February. She reviewed various School documents and statistics, and interviewed faculty, students and alumni. An experienced accreditation surveyor, Dr. Furner provided useful comments on our School’s performance and offered helpful suggestions in preparing for the “real thing” next year.

Everyone in the School community has a stake in us “passing” accreditation. By gearing up the preparations early, we hope to identify and address areas that need improvement.