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Support MCH Initiatives

August 2016

Dear Alumni and Friends:

Thank you for your past contributions to the Department of Maternal and Child Health. I am privileged to serve as the Department Chair and I want to ask for your continuing support for the Department of Maternal and Child Health and the Gillings School of Global Public Health in the coming year. We make important contributions to the field of MCH globally and locally every day and, with your help, we can do even more in the upcoming year.

Dr. Carolyn Halpern

Here are just a few highlights of our many student, faculty, and program accomplishments in the 2015-2016 academic year:

  • We offered new courses to better meet student needs:
    • An online course in Implementation Science
    • A residential course on Gender Based Violence
    • A residential course in Human Sexuality
  • We participated in the Minority Health Conference in February, 2016. Department representatives disseminated information about our curriculum, research, and practice activities to continue to raise our profile and enhance our student diversity.
  • Our faculty led or co-led multiple high profile efforts housed in the department to improve the health of the MCH population. These include the WHO collaborating Center for Research Evidence for Sexual and Reproductive Health (Herbert Peterson), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations’ New Clinical Scholars Program (Claudia Fernandez), and the Maternal Child Health Bureau funded National MCH Workforce Development Center (Dorothy Cilenti).
  • The Mary Rose Tully Training Initiative (MRTTI), based in the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute (CGBI) in the MCH Department, became the first breastfeeding training program to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). CGBI celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2016.
  • MCH Faculty member and acting director of the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute Catherine Sullivan, MPH, RD, LDN has been elected to the board of directors of the United States Breastfeeding Committee.
  • MCH faculty member Christine Tucker, PhD, received both the Gillings Teaching Innovation Award and a UNC Graduate School Impact Award (for her dissertation work) in 2016. The Impact Award honors graduate students for “powerful discoveries that contribute to a better future for people and communities in North Carolina.”
  • MCH faculty member Alison Stuebe, MD, was named Distinguished Scholar of Infant and Young Child Feeding. Dr. Stuebe recently received federal funding to support Care4Moms, a 3-year study that will identify and address the needs of mothers with medically fragile infants.
  • MCH faculty member Kavita Singh Ongechi, PhD, received a 2016-2017 Faculty Scholar Award from the Carolina Women’s Center to undertake a project that will advance the Center’s mission to further gender equity.
  • I was honored to receive the 2016 Gillings School John E. Larsh Award for Mentorship for “mentorship and commitment to students.”

In the upcoming year:

  • We will welcome 45 incoming masters’ students and 6 incoming doctoral students for the 2016-17 academic year. This cohort includes six physicians, three nurses and four international students, one of whom is a Fulbright scholar. We also have one Royster fellow, three Graduate School merit awardees and two Gillings merit awardees.
    • April Aviles, MCH masters’ student, will serve as co-president of the Gillings School’s Minority Student Caucus.
    • Anna Austin, MPH, second-year doctoral student, was selected by APHA as an MCH Section Fellow for 2016-2017.
  • With the retirements of MCH faculty members Drs. Anita Farel and Jonathan Kotch, and the untimely death of Dr.Miriam Labbok, we will hire several new faculty. Emphasis areas are implementation science and systems science.
  • We will complete planned physical renovations to facilitate the work of faculty, staff, and students.
  • We will implement a reinvigorated student recruitment plan to raise the MCH Department’s profile, and increase applications/acceptances from first generation college students and under-represented minorities.

The Department of Maternal and Child Health may be the smallest department in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, but our alumni and friends have the biggest hearts! Your gift to our Annual Fund will help us with our current development priorities:

  • Financial aid for students in need – ongoing state budget cuts have created even greater financial need among students;
  • Discretionary funds to respond to strategic opportunities, including attracting and supporting diverse new faculty and students.

Your gift will make a HUGE difference to our Department. Thank you for your support as we move into our 66th year of serving mothers and children in North Carolina, the United States, and around the globe!

Best regards,
Carolyn T. Halpern, PhD
Professor and Chair