Dean Thomas Chandler began the 2016 Hooding Ceremony by welcoming master’s and doctoral degree graduates along with their families and friends. “This is the highlight of our year, and I’m proud to report to you that our School—your School—continues to experience remarkable, and even record, growth in all areas of academic achievement,” he said.
Some of the successes Dean Chandler named include extramural funding of $36 million from agencies and foundations, an additional $7 million endowment from Norman J. and Gerry Sue Arnold to establish an Institute on Aging, 535 peer-reviewed journal articles, and a No. 1 ranking in the nation for the School’s PhD program in exercise science. He also noted the Arnold School’s increased outreach to public health practitioners and work with hospitals and community partners throughout the state and the world.
“In fact, the Arnold School’s remarkable research and community service activities are a primary reason why this university now holds the prestigious Carnegie Foundation’s highest recognition as a university of both very high research activity and very high community engagement,” Dean Chandler said. “There are only about 40 universities in the country that hold both distinctions, and I’m very proud that we are able to contribute to both of those in distinct ways.”
He also discussed the numerous public health problems we face as a nation and a world and assured graduates that they are well-prepared to face these challenges with what will be a satisfying career. “You should be really proud of your School and where you’re coming from, you should be proud of your faculty, and you should be especially proud that each and every one of you had a very measurable role in all of these recent accomplishments,” said Dean Chandler.
Dr. Margaret Van Bree, the President of Rhode Island Hospital, served as the event’s featured speaker. She congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments and expressed her confidence in their preparation. “Your talents, your insight, your energy are needed more than ever, and…you are bringing to the community the most contemporary understanding of theory and evidenced-based practice,” she said.
Dr. Van Bree noted challenges in public health, such as new epidemics and providing high quality health care for vulnerable populations. “We need you to help us look at these issues with new lenses and new perspectives,” she said. “Some forget that in choosing to work in public health, we are actually some of the luckiest people in the world. Not only because you have a superior education at this school, but because we get to work in mission-driven organizations, focusing on improving the lives and health of other people. And we know why we get up in the morning. There’s a purpose beyond ourselves.”
She also gave the new graduates some advice: work with passion; go outside your comfort zone; stay connected with your classmates and faculty; be gracious and thankful; give back to your community and your school. “Be confident that you have the educational background, the technical and interpersonal skills, and the knowledge that you can take challenging assignments and situations so that you can get up, try again, and forge a new path because we need you now more than ever,” Dr. Van Bree concluded.
Dr. Cheryl Addy, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, highlighted the efforts of 33 small groups of public health undergraduates who raised nearly $40,000 in cash, in-kind gifts, and volunteer hours for 16 non-profit, community-based organizations in the Columbia area during a five-week period as a part of their senior capstone class. She then presented the annual Arnold School student and alumni awards. Next, Dean Chandler announced the Arnold School faculty award winners. Delta Omega Honorary Society Mu Chapter inductees were recognized as well.