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The GW Hatchet

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New public health school chair plans to reconnect alumni with program

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Catherine Moran.

A new chair in the Milken Institute School of Public Health has plans to make his department nationally renowned.

Thomas LaVeist, who will be the chair of the health policy and management department starting in February, said he wants to expand the department’s reputation across the country by creating a stronger alumni network and connecting graduates to the department’s current research and faculty.

LaVeist, who said the department already has “strong and very engaged alumni,” wants to grow and organize those former students to better advertise the department’s achievements.

“I think building the network is one of the keys to having people around the country know just what we have in that department,” he said.

Alumni, he added, will also play a vital role in keeping the department up to date on what is happening nation-wide with public health policy and management research.

“It’s important for us to be connected to people out there in the field so that we can ensure that the training programs that we have remain relevant, and as the field changes, we need to be nimble enough to change as well,” he said.

Aside from expanding the alumni network, LaVeist said he plans on teaching after he settles in at GW. He wants to teach an undergraduate class on public health and film, and plans for the class to use documentaries and theatrical films from the last fifteen years to spark discussions on themes and trends in public health-related topics.

LaVeist will be the third chair in the department’s history after his 25-year career at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where he taught classes on minority health, health disparity and policy in the undergraduate public health program. He was also the director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions.

LaVeist has published more than 100 articles in scientific journals as well as books on minority health and race in health. He is now working on a book and documentary called “The Skin You’re In,” that focuses on the disparities of racial health in the country.

Last year the public health policy and management departments recombined after separating 15 years ago. The rejoined department was a move to encourage faculty from both fields to collaborate on research, while allowing students better preparation in management for a public health policy field.

“To some extent, my job will be to not allow the department to decline in its notoriety because I think it’s a very strong department,” LaVeist said.

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