Student Handbook - Message from the Dean
Welcome to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, the top public school of public health in the U.S. and among the top three in the nation. We are so proud of the Gillings School and so glad you are joining us!
Our School’s mission – to improve public health, promote individual well-being and eliminate health inequities across North Carolina and around the world – is integrated throughout our teaching, research, practice and service. Our faculty, staff and students are committed to excellence and integrity in these interdependent areas, across the range of academic disciplines in public health.
As a student here, whatever your discipline, you will become familiar with terms such as health inequities and social determinants. You’ll learn, if you are not aware already, of the interconnectedness of health, the environment, education, poverty, housing, transportation and all the so-called non-health factors that influence health. These factors are always in the context of what we teach and do, even when not articulated directly.
The Gillings School promotes ethics and values that apply to all health professions. We believe in treating all people with civility, dignity and respect; that public health is accountable and responsible to communities and should work collaboratively with them; and we believe that diversity, equity and inclusion are integral to everything we do. We welcome everyone here.
Gillings faculty members are some of the most talented teachers, researchers and scholars anywhere in the world. They are accessible, committed to students and passionate about the work they do. Our staff members, especially those who work in student services, are part of our secret sauce. They will become part of your lives, people whose advice you seek and important sources of support.
In collaboration with faculty mentors and with one another, public health students solve problems, invent solutions, volunteer with student and community organizations, win prizes, publish papers and make an impact on the health of people everywhere – often before they graduate! Global learning opportunities give students at all levels a broader perspective on public health and help expand their horizons. Check our Gillings Global Gateway™ to learn more.
We take the public in our name very seriously. We work in all 100 North Carolina counties and in 52 countries worldwide. Service and practice are part of what we do every day. We are a school of the public – the people – and we have a deep, abiding faith in the power of people to effect positive changes in health that benefit individuals and communities. We are committed to North Carolina. While people in every department do outreach across the state, the North Carolina Institute for Public Health is our outreach arm in the state.
As a Gillings student, you are part of a very special community. Students here are among the best anywhere in the world. Preparation for leadership is woven into all aspects of your experience.
You’re also part of a great, collaborative university community. Take advantage of it. This is a community.
UNC and Gillings School student and alumni networks provide talented, enthusiastic and caring colleagues who will become close personal friends for life, wherever you might find yourself.
We are building a culture of health within the School – including physical, social, psychological and spiritual health and well-being – based on the belief that everyone is entitled to live healthy lives. Throughout the year, check the School’s weekly e-newsletter and LCD screens for information about free classes in mindfulness, yoga, aerobics and more, special lectures and other activities. On site showers, walk stations and (new this year!) bicycles are available for student, faculty and staff use as well.
I and our School’s leaders are committed fully to our students’ success and well-being. Charletta Sims Evans, MEd, assistant dean for student affairs, and her Office of Student Affairs team are important resources for student-related issues. Laura Linnan, ScD, associate dean for academic and student affairs and professor of health behavior, is the senior academic leader for our curricula, reaccreditation and other academic issues. We’re in the process of some exciting changes for our core courses, and we’ll tell you more over the year. We listen to students, and we make changes based on what you tell us. We are here for you and because of you. If you have a problem or have ideas about ways we can improve or do things better, please tell your student representatives and us.
We believe in you and are excited to partner with you on your Gillings School journey.
Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH
Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor
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