A Rousing Send-Off
The SPH commencement ceremony last week was truly magnificent, exhibiting all the pomp and circumstance one expects of such occasions—from the processional led by this year’s macebearer, Jill DeBoer, deputy director of CIDRAP, to the hooding of the newly minted doctoral graduates. The event’s rich traditions were nudged into the 21st century through the use of the Jumbotron, which provided a play-by-play account of the activities, and a webcast, which enabled us to stream the event live to families and friends worldwide.
If you were unable to attend the ceremony, you missed one of the most impassioned public health commencement addresses that I have ever heard. Dr. Reed Tuckson, executive vice president and chief of medical affairs at UnitedHealth Group, implored the graduates to innovate public health practice by applying new thinking, new approaches, and new energy to today’s challenges. He urged them to find ways to serve the underserved. Acknowledging that public health and health care must be viewed as part of a health continuum, he called upon the graduates to contribute “profound, innovative, interdisciplinary, multi-sector, scalable, and sustainable” change to the field. As he concluded his remarks, the crowd burst into applause, giving Dr. Tuckson a standing ovation—another first, I believe, for the school’s commencement exercises. (View a Flickr slideshow of commencement photos.)
While his remarks were directed toward our graduates, he stirred the emotions in all of us and renewed our fervor for the field of public health.
Speaking of being passionate about what we do, the public health pledge, which graduates recite before they recess, is a great reminder of why we entered the public health field:
As a public health professional dedicated to enhancing the health status and well being of individuals and communities, I pledge to hold the public interest and health of populations as my highest professional goals.
Thank you for another successful academic year, and all the best for a great summer. As always, we almost immediately kick off our upcoming academic year with the Summer Public Health Institute, which begins its three-week run today. I am grateful to the College of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Nursing—as well as our various local, national, and global partners—for their continued involvement in this program.
—John R. Finnegan, Jr., PhD
Professor and Dean