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"You now know what to do to make a difference," Dr. Reed Tuckson tells UM SPH class of 2011.

May 2, 2011, release from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

ANN ARBOR--The graduation ceremony held on April 28, 2011, at historic Hill Auditorium recognized 299 degree candidates from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Dean Martin Philbert presided.

"This is the day we rejoice in the achievements of every student who has earned a degree at this most distinguished institution," Dean Philbert said. "I know that today's graduates will carry on the school's legacy of excellence in contributions to public health."

gradsDean Philbert noted that the students came to UM SPH from 130 undergraduate institutions and 20 other countries (Albania, Cameroon, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Republic of Korea, Lebanon, Liberia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Singapore, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, and United Kingdom). They are joining the UM SPH alumni network of more than 13,000 public health professionals working across America and around the world.

Remarks on Behalf of the Students

M.P.H. candidate Matthew Bialko addressed fellow graduates and guests on behalf of the class of 2011. "If there's one thing we've all learned here at Michigan, it is that there's no shortage of health disparities in the world," he said. He added that he and his fellow graduates will go forth "dedicated to addressing and reducing those disparities," particularly for the most vulnerable populations.

"Employ integrative approaches to solving problems," he urged fellow graduates. "Work towards realistic goals and seek to make cumulative improvements in public health around the world."

Faculty & Alumni Honorees

The faculty recipients of the school’s annual awards were announced at the ceremony:

  • Paula Lantz, professor and chair of the Department of Health Management and Policy, received the Excellence in Teaching Award. It was presented by M.P.H. candidate Kris Jensen.
  • Jack Kalbfleisch, professor of biostatistics and director of the Kidney Epidemiology and Cost Center (UM-KECC), received the Excellence in Research Award. It was presented by Associate Dean for Research Alfred Franzblau.
  • Toby Citrin, adjunct professor of health management and policy and director of the Center for Public Health and Community Genomics, received the Gene Feingold Diversity Award. Comments were made by Department of Epidemiology Chair Sharon L.R. Kardia.

Address by Dr. Reed Tuckson

TucksonDean Philbert introduced the 2011 graduation speaker: Reed Tuckson, M.D., Executive Vice-President and Chief of Medical Affairs at UnitedHealth Group. An active member of the Institute of Medicine, Dr. Tuckson was also Commissioner of Public Health for the District of Columbia, senior vice president for professsional standards at the American Medical Association, and president of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, an institution with significant focus on underserved communities.

"Today Dr. Tuckson oversees the provision of health services to UnitedHealth Group's 75 million members, and he is changing and improving care in America," Dean Philbert said. "He is at the forefront of efforts to reform the American health care system, in part by shifting our focus from illness to prevention."

Dr. Tuckson acknowledged the achievement of the graduates and welcomed them into "this great profession." He proclaimed that parents and other family members were warranted in "the immense pride and unashamed relief filling this hall."

He outlined three major challenges for graduates:

  • To make public health practice more innovative. "We need new data, tools, social marketing engagment; I, for one, am tired of failing with the same old approaches."
  • To be more effective in engaging communities in the fight for health. Whether it's with tobacco, inactivity, or other issues "you know well."
  • To commit to being accountable on the quality, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of practice.

"You're lucky, because thanks to this great faculty, you know what to do," he concluded. "You now know what to do to make a difference."

Closing Remarks

After the presentation of degrees to graduates, Dean Philbert noted an environmentally motivated change to the post-ceremony reception for 2011: "All the plates, cups, napkins, etc. are made with 100-percent compostable materials." The announcement was greeted with enthusiastic applause.

Graduates were reminded that they will go forth to face many challenges, from "new and proliferating technologies that can be both helpful and a hindrance" to injustices that are as old as human civilization. "But because of who you are and what you are capable of doing," Dean Philbert said, "I look forward to the future with an uncompromised optimism."

More on University of Michigan campuswide commencement April 30, 2011.


Contact: Terri Mellow, director of communications, (734) 764-8094 or Mary Beth Lewis, web communications specialist, (734-615-2279)