As the top public school of public health in the nation, the Gillings School of Global Public Health has long embraced our mission to improve public health, promote individual well-being and eliminate health inequities in North Carolina and around the world. We do this through our high-impact research; education of public health leaders; and dedication to public health practice and service across North Carolina, the U.S. and in 60 countries around the world.

But these outcomes don’t just happen. We envision them. Our new schoolwide strategic planning process, SPH2028, is our most recent effort to identify the aspirational goals and strategies that can help us prepare for, and shape, the future. SPH2028 kicked off in October 2021 to help us shape the future of practice, academics and research at Gillings. All three domains will also address critical cross-cutting themes central to achieving our mission: equity and inclusive excellence; local/global considerations; innovation; revenue generation; and space.

SPH2028: Ideas to action

Building on SPH2020. The Gillings School has a tradition of using plans – developed in partnership with faculty, staff, students, alumni, community partners and friends – to identify priorities and spur innovation. Our last strategic plan, SPH2020, helped us globalize our school; make strides in inclusive excellence; modernize our curriculum, pedagogy, and teaching and learning spaces and modalities; and expand our revenue sources (see SPH2020 scorecard). We will use a similar approach for SPH2028, building on our strengths and aligning with UNC’s strategic plan, Carolina Next: Innovations for the public good.

Overall timeline and approach. We started schoolwide strategic planning in October with practice and will begin work on academics and research in spring 2022. By June 2022, we aim to have goals and strategies mapped for all three domains, a strong blueprint for our future. We will follow an engaged process, convening nimble task forces that will work with faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members and friends to develop and refine goals and strategies. Recommendations will be reviewed and approved by the dean and the Gillings School’s Dean’s Council. We anticipate that separate implementation committees will be convened after recommendations are approved. Implementation committees will define priorities, timelines, necessary resources, evaluation measures and communications strategies for keeping the Gillings community abreast of implementation and CQI efforts.

SPH2028 Strategic Planning Committee. Our SPH2028 Strategic Planning Committee guides and oversees planning across the three domains of practice, research and academics and ensures integration across the three domains. Co-chaired by Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor, and Elizabeth French, MA, associate dean for strategic initiatives, the committee is supported by David Napp, MPH, head of Practical Applications of Public Health. Napp is a Gillings grad with over 20 years of experience in strategic planning in public health and has supported strategic planning and organizational change efforts nationally, including at CDC, NIH and at UNC-Chapel Hill. See our roster (PPT).

Dean Barbara K. Rimer

Dean Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, Co-Chair, SPH2028

Elizabeth French

Elizabeth French, MA, Co-Chair, SPH2028

David Napp

David Napp, MPH, Consultant, SPH2028

Future of Practice

Co-chaired by Leah Devlin, DDS, MPH, professor of the practice in HPM, and John Wiesman, DrPH, professor of the practice and director of the executive DrPH program in HPM, the Gillings Practice Task Force came together, starting in October 2021, to craft a 21st-century vision of practice and recommend how we should define, organize and operationalize practice at Gillings to achieve that vision. Along the way, the Practice Task Force will address practice priority areas, especially eliminating inequities; major opportunities locally and globally; barriers we need to overcome; telling our story; and achieving greater impact from our practice activities in North Carolina and around the world.

John Wiesman

John Wiesman, DrPH, MPH, Co-Chair, Practice Task Force

Leah Devlin

Leah Devlin, DDS, MPH, Co-Chair, Practice Task Force

Our process and timeline

  • October 2021: Task Force convenes and reviews charge.
  • November 2021: Through readings, guest lectures, and a series of flash talks from experts from within and outside of Gillings, Practice Task Force members review the history of practice at Gillings, our current state, and key opportunities for the future.
  • Dec 2021/Feb 2022: Practice Task Force hold engagement meetings with faculty, staff, students, alums, employers, community partners and friends to gather ideas and seek feedback on draft recommendations.
  • March 2022: Practice Task Force shares recommendations with Gillings School dean and Dean’s Council; finalizes recommendations; receives approval from dean and Dean’s Council.

Want to stay connected? Send an email to Elizabeth French at to share thoughts and ideas or to be added to our mailing list.

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