Dr. Laura Magaña, president and CEO of ASPPH, to speak at Gillings School commencement

January 27, 2020

Dr. Laura Magaña

Dr. Laura Magaña

Laura Magaña, PhD, president and chief executive officer of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), will be the commencement speaker at the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s 2020 spring graduation. The ceremony will be held Saturday, May 9, at 1 p.m. in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carmichael Arena.

Magaña is the former dean of the School of Public Health at the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico. She has been in her role with ASPPH since August 2017.

She has more than 30 years’ experience successfully leading the transformation and advancement of public and private universities in Mexico, educational organizations in the United States, and nonprofits and United Nations programs in Central America and Europe. For the past 20 years, she has focused her efforts on public health.

At ASPPH, Magaña leads the organization that is “the voice of accredited academic public health” and represents all the schools and programs accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). Her primary responsibility is to seek out opportunities for collaboration that will move the field where it needs to go.

“Schools of public health do so much good individually,” she explains, “but the force of a group is greater. We are creating the world we want for academic public health, and that cannot be done by any institution working alone.”

Magaña’s road to ASPPH began at the School of Public Health in Mexico. In 2004, as dean, she set a goal to get her school accredited internationally.

“After some conversations with ASPPH and CEPH leaders, they were convinced of the need to change the bylaws to allow international institutions to be accredited and be part of ASPPH” Magaña recalls. “In Mexico, we were the first school to take advantage of that.”

Magaña’s focus on global health persists in her current work with ASPPH.

“As an organization, we used to be very centralized within the U.S.,” she says. “Now, we work intentionally with partners from many countries to advance the academic global public health arena. That speaks to the heart of what you do at the Gillings School, as well.”

“I am excited to be part of your commencement,” she adds, “because I love the special energy that comes with the culmination of so much hard work. I think graduates will understand me when I say public health started off as my career and became my life. Our work affects individuals, families, communities — and all of us are in this together.”

In addition to a diverse portfolio of research, training and technological developments — largely related to learning environments and the use of technology in education — Magaña holds a Bachelor of Arts in special education, a Master of Science in educational technology and a doctoral degree in educational administration.

She was elected to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine global commission in 2014. She is an active member of professional and scientific educational committees around the globe, including the Public Health Institutes of the World, the World Federation of Public Health Associations, the Association of Schools of Public Health in Europe, the Latin-American Global Health Association, the National System of Researchers and the National Academy of Medical Education in Mexico. She also participates on several editorial boards, including Public Health Reviews, ASPHER in Europe, the Chilean Journal of Public Health and the Journal in Eastern Europe.

“I am overjoyed that Dr. Magaña accepted our students’ invitation to be the 2020 commencement speaker,” shares Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at the Gillings School. “Laura is a highly regarded international leader in public health — she is dynamic, empathic, visionary and inspirational. She combines a global outlook with local sensitivity, and her messages will resonate with our graduating students and their visitors.”


Contact the Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@unc.edu.

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