The University of North Carolina Gillings School held its seventy-fourth spring commencement on Saturday, May 10. The ceremony, which began at 1:00 p.m. in the Carmichael Arena on the UNC campus, featured a keynote address by a distinguished alumna now at the Gates Foundation and the presentation of two important faculty awards for teaching and mentorship.
It especially celebrated the achievements of 290 students who applied to receive a degree from the School this spring.
[Photo: Bachelor of Science in Public Health students celebrate their commencement]
Dr. Nicole Bates, two-time alumna of the Gillings School and keynote speaker at the commencement ceremony, leads the global advocacy and policy strategies for polio eradication, vaccines, and child health at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Her efforts have contributed to more than $8 billion in global commitments to support vaccination programs in the world’s poorest countries.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Bates served as director for government relations at the Global Health Council, the world’s largest health professional member association. She began her career as a Presidential management fellow in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Chronic Disease Center and subsequently worked with the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts on domestic and social issues. Her inspiring talk drew on life experiences that brought her to a career in public health.
At the spring faculty and staff meeting on May 1, School leaders announced the selection of Dr. Steve Wing and Dr. Lewis Margolis as recipients of the 2014 John E. Larsh Jr. Award for Mentorship and the Edward G. McGavran Award for Excellence in Teaching, respectively.
As students submit many of the nominations for these awards, the official presentation is traditionally scheduled during the School’s commencement ceremony.
The McGavran Award
The McGavran Award for Excellence in Teaching honors Dr. Edward G. McGavran, dean of the UNC School of Public Health from 1947 to 1963 and proponent of “hands-on” field training for public health students. First given in 1975, the award recognizes career-long excellence in teaching by a faculty member at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Dr. Lew Margolis, associate professor of maternal and child health at the Gillings School, has served on the UNC public health faculty since 1990. Educated at the University of Chicago (MD, 1974) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (MPH, 1980), he has dedicated his career to research and service in the areas of child health policy, injury control, and public health practice.
His student nominators noted the ways Dr. Margolis works to connect with those in his classroom, including committing to learn students’ names in the first week of class and meeting individually with all students at the start of the semester.
The Larsh Award
Established in 1997, the highly competitive John E. Larsh Award for Mentorship honors Dr. Larsh, a faculty member in the School’s Department of Health Behavior and Health Education from 1942 to 1981. The award is presented to a current member of the School’s faculty who best exemplifies the mentorship and commitment to students for which Dr. Larsh was well known.
Dr. Steve Wing, associate professor of epidemiology, earned a master’s degree in sociology from Duke University in 1980 and a doctorate in epidemiology from UNC’s public health school three years later.
His authorship of more than 90 refereed journal articles includes research on the environment, ethics, global health, health policy, minority, rural and occupational health, and public health practice. Recent work particularly has addressed health problems associated with industrialized hog farming in North Carolina and community-driven environmental justice.
Selection committee members noted the number of dissertation and thesis committees on which Dr. Wing had served, “reflecting the great value students have found in your counsel.” Committee members said that his nurturing of students, during their time at Carolina and beyond, was extraordinary and inspirational.