Letter from Dean Fallin

The past several years have been an incredible time for public health. Our global society has faced enormous health challenges, and also seen great successes. The common thread across many of these recent public health triumphs is the people—researchers and practitioners who are passionate about making the world a healthy place to live and thrive. Of course, there is much work to be done.

The Rollins School of Public Health is uniquely poised to make significant strides toward this vision. Although our school is just over 30 years old, we have already garnered a deep bench of talented and creative researchers making discoveries and translating findings into scalable practice from molecular to behavioral, environmental, and policy work.

Our location in Atlanta allows us to be an effective partner with local and global public health organizations based in our city, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to county and state health departments to the Task Force for Global Health, the American Cancer Society, and the Carter Center. Being part of the Emory Woodruff Health Sciences Center, along with our collaboration with the other schools of Emory University and our proximity to other universities in Atlanta and the Southeast make Rollins an ideal location to work, live, learn, and practice. Our work is global, but our research has benefited tremendously from the connections we have made with the diverse communities across Georgia—from its vibrant cities to its dynamic rural areas.

With this backdrop in mind, it is our responsibility to make the most impact possible as a school, and that takes careful, thoughtful, and inclusive preparation. This strategic plan is the product of that work, a process that involved hearing the aspirations of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, and partners to iteratively set our priorities, then develop strategies to achieve our goals. This plan is intended to serve as our center of gravity for directing our energy, spirit, and resources. It will be our North Star as we navigate the ever-evolving public health landscape. The plan is anchored in our shared values and our renewed mission: “To make the world healthier and more equitable through excellence in research, education, and practice.”

I want our school to become the most trusted source of public health information anywhere, as well as a key player in generating that information— so that our wider community looks to us to make critical discoveries, and to help implement those approaches so that they can scale. M. DANIELE FALLIN, PHD
James W. Curran Dean of Public Health at the Rollins School of Public Health

We have learned important lessons from the pandemic, and now face a world affected by a climate crisis, disabling infectious and chronic diseases, mental and behavioral health challenges, and persistent health inequities that are too often driven by our nation’s racist past and present. In the coming years, we also face a legal landscape that limits access to reproductive and gender-affirming care in parts of our country, as well as new constraints on how we recruit and admit a diverse student body. This plan will guide us in addressing these monumental threats.

This plan will not sit on a shelf or get lost in a digital folder. Instead, we have developed a dashboard to monitor progress on each of the six goals detailed in the plan, including key performance indicators, and a website to share this progress with our community and the public. We will keep these goals and their objectives at the heart of what we do and how we do it—and expect to be held accountable if we go off course.

Importantly, you will see a thread of health equity throughout our goals. If we are successful, everyone who conducts health equity research will seek out Rollins, and everyone conducting any public health research will follow our model for integrating health equity’s values into their work. Our city has been the site of many civil rights achievements, and I believe that our work here in Atlanta, and across the globe, can contribute to that legacy by illustrating the enormous value of investing in public health equity.

I am incredibly grateful to the many people in our community who contributed to this effort, and particularly to Dr. Timothy Lash, who generously agreed to chair our steering committee; Lynda Barrett, Rachel Peprah, and Whitney Robinson
from the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Strategic Planning Office for their patient and thoughtful support; Delia Lang and Allie Suessmith, who provided dean’s office leadership; and the dedicated steering committee and working group members who enthusiastically agreed and delivered on an ambitious timeline. The whole school, and the communities we serve, are better for your input and leadership in this process.

I am so proud of the plans our community have set in motion and look forward to how Rollins will continue to shape public health in the years to come. And with the power and passion of our people, we will make meaningful progress toward delivering on the promise of public health for all.

M. Daniele Fallin, PhD
James W. Curran Dean of Public Health
at the Rollins School of Public Health

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