School News and Awards 2022
A sampling of noteworthy honors, awards, grants, contracts and milestones in the Gillings community.
Three Gillings students are among 11 UNC-Chapel Hill graduate students and recent graduate alumni who have received The Graduate School’s 2022 Impact Awards, in recognition of research that contributes to the educational, economic, physical, social or cultural well-being of North Carolina communities and citizens. They are:
- Caitlin Biddell, a doctoral student in health policy and management, for her work in financial assistance processes in cancer care;
- Jeliyah Clark, a doctoral candidate in environmental sciences and engineering, for her research on drinking well water during pregnancy and the effects of dietary interventions on birth outcomes; and
- Lindsay Savelli, a master’s student in health equity, social justice and human rights, for her studies of environmental racism and asphalt plant pollution in Caswell County.
Master of Public Health (MPH) student Morgan Cooper, RD, received one of UNC-Chapel Hill’s 2021 Public Service Awards, the Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award, alongside preceptor Ryan Lavalley, PhD, assistant professor of occupational science and occupational therapy, for innovative work in partnership with the Orange County Partnerships for Home Preservation, the Orange County Department on Aging and the Marian Cheek Jackson Center, in support of home preservation and repair and aging-in-community.
Five master’s students from Gillings were in the most recent cohort of the E(I) Lab Program, an entrepreneurship and innovation lab that encourages UNC-Chapel Hill graduate students across various disciplines to collaborate to solve challenges in health care. Three teams participated:
- First place: Mental Health Matchmakers, which included Gillings students Kayla McKiski and Noah Hammes, designed a project to test the feasibility of matching mental health services with students coping with substance use disorders.
- Second place: Trashbusters, which included Shauna Fraser-Kim from Gillings, worked to resolve the increase of medical waste brought about by the current global pandemic.
- Third place: Jane Tandler and Victoria Tetteh from the Gillings were part of Tetteh Back Pocket, which created a platform with resources to help people manage their chronic back pain.
Two Gillings students were among 14 UNC undergraduates selected as Phillips Ambassadors for Summer, Fall and Academic Year 2021 study abroad programs in Asia. Caroline Le of Raleigh, a health policy and management major, and Skyler Noble of Chapel Hill, an applied mathematics and biostatistics double major, studied through the Yonsei University international summer school program. Ambassadors are selected twice a year and receive $6,000 each.
Takhona Hlatshwako, a senior from the Kingdom of Eswatini in Southern Africa (formerly Swaziland) studying health policy and management, has been named a Rhodes Scholar to pursue a fully funded postgraduate degree at the University of Oxford in Fall 2022. She plans to pursue a master’s in international health and tropical medicine through the Oxford Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health within the Nuffield Department of Medicine.
Gillings student Aneesha Tucker, a double major in health policy and management and women and gender studies, received the 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship from UNC-Chapel Hill. Amy Lo, a junior from Cleveland, Ohio, who studies public health nutrition with minors in chemistry and food studies, was one of two runners-up.
Three Gillings students received the inaugural Gillings School Graduate Teaching Assistant (TA) Award: Dane Emmerling, graduate teaching assistant and doctoral student in health behavior; Lee Doyle, graduate research assistant and MPH student in health behavior; and Hanna Huffstetler, graduate teaching assistant and doctoral student in health behavior.
EXAMPLES OF GRANTS & CONTRACTS
Audrey Pettifor, PhD, professor in the Department of Epidemiology, is co-leading a $15 million state-funded surveillance effort to facilitate and enhance genomic sequencing capabilities of the SARS-CoV-2 virus across N.C. The CORVASEQ (Coronavirus Variant Sequencing) Surveillance Network is a partnership between the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health and the N.C. Policy Collaboratory. CORVASEQ includes several academic institutions and health care systems. An online dashboard will be created as part of the information sharing and epidemiological tracking aspects of the program.
The Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Development Initiative (READDI), a nonprofit drug research and development organization that was founded by the UNC School of Medicine, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Eshelman School of Pharmacy and the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, won RTI International’s Forethought Research Collaboration Challenge and received $5 million in seed funds to produce antiviral drugs that can block many viruses at once, in an effort to prevent future pandemics.
Jason Surratt, PhD, professor of environmental sciences and engineering, will be UNC’s principal investigator on a $12 million National Science Foundation project to determine the content of airborne particulate matter, which has significant effects on health and climate change. He will work with Georgia Institute of Technology Professor Nga Lee “Sally” Ng, PhD, the lead principal investigator. The project will establish a network of 12 sites around the United States outfitted with state-of-the-art instruments to characterize the properties of aerosols. Surratt will lead a group at the site in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park at Look Rock, Tenn. Surratt also received the 2021 Kenneth T. Whitby Award from the American Association for Aerosol Research (AAAR) in recognition of outstanding technical contributions to aerosol science and technology by a young scientist.
The Improving Provider Announcement Communication Training (IMPACT) Program Project, led by Noel Brewer, PhD, Gillings Distinguished Professor in Public Health, has received $11.7 million in funding from the National Cancer Institute to study ways that health care providers can contribute to vaccine recommendations, what motivates providers to recommend human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, who should facilitate training and what kind of communication interventions are most cost-effective. IMPACT research project leads include Melissa Gilkey, PhD, associate professor of health behavior; Justin Trogdon, PhD, and Stephanie Wheeler, PhD, MPH, professors of health policy and management; and Sachiko Ozawa, PhD, associate professor from the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and adjunct associate professor of maternal and child health. Nisha Gottfredson, PhD, assistant professor of health behavior, will co-lead the data core with Trogdon. One of the world’s top researchers in risk beliefs and communication, Brewer was named Gillings Distinguished Professor in Public Health in 2021 and was appointed to the Commission for Vaccine Refusal, Acceptance and Demand in the USA by The Lancet, one of the world’s foremost publications on health research, to design a plan for public policy to support high acceptance of safe and effective vaccines in the U.S.
UNC’s Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility (CEHS), led by Melissa Troester, PhD, Gillings professor of epidemiology, will work with North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers on a multi-institutional project funded by a $17 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Southeastern Liver Health Study will follow 16,000 people in N.C. and Georgia for up to five years to explore a potential link between environmental contaminants and liver cancer. Michael Sanderson, MPH, associate director of the CEHS, will work with NCSU on project administration and evaluation.
The UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) has received a $5.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund another five years of support. This award is the fifth time the NIH has provided five-year funding for the center, allowing for continuous work in the field of nutritional sciences and obesity since the center’s establishment in 1999. Led by co-directors Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, RD, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of nutrition and medicine and chair of the Department of Nutrition, and Raz Shaikh, PhD, associate professor and associate chair for research in the Department of Nutrition, NORC is one of 11 centers in the country funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) that is specifically designed to enhance the efficiency, productivity, effectiveness and multidisciplinary nature of nutrition and obesity-related research.
Gillings faculty will lead two new centers as part of the NIH study Nutrition for Precision Health, powered by the All of Us Research Program (NPH), a five-year effort that will develop predictive algorithms and generate new data to advance personalized nutrition and improve public health. Mayer-Davis is the principal investigator for the $13 million Clinical Center, which will enroll more than 2,000 study participants. Susan Sumner, PhD, professor of nutrition, is the principal investigator for the $19 million Metabolomics and Clinical Assay Center (MCAC), which will analyze metabolomics data to measure tens of thousands of compounds in biospecimens to provide a more comprehensive view of an individual’s health and wellness. Sumner is based at the Nutrition Research Institute (NRI) in Kannapolis. The NRI is home to the Eastern Regional Comprehensive Metabolomics Research Core, one of six U.S. centers that work together to establish national standards for metabolomics and increase national metabolomic capacity in clinical and translational research.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of N.C. has dedicated $3.2 million for a new, large clinical study to investigate how to best help people who are food insecure achieve better health through nutrition. Study co-leaders are Darren DeWalt, MD, MPH, director of the UNC Institute for Healthcare Quality Improvement at the UNC School of Medicine and a 2004 MPH Gillings graduate; Alice Ammerman, DrPH, the Mildred Kaufman Distinguished Professor of nutrition at Gillings and director of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and Seth Berkowitz, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine and member of the UNC Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.
With a $2.8 million grant from the NIH, Gillings nutrition researchers are studying what types of personalized digital messages and guidance can best help people modify their behavior to meet their goals, such as eating more healthful foods, getting active and keeping tabs on their weight. Carmina Valle, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition; Deborah Tate, PhD, professor of nutrition and health behavior; assistant professors of nutrition Brooke Nezami, PhD, and Heather Wasser, PhD; and Nisha Gottfredson, PhD, associate professor of health behavior, are co-investigators.
The Department of Maternal and Child Health (MCH) has received a $1.97 million award from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, which will renew funding of the department’s National MCH Workforce Development Center led by Dorothy Cilenti, DrPH, associate professor of maternal and child health, for another five years. The Center was established in 2014 as the national training hub for workforce development in maternal and child health.
Andrew Olshan, PhD, Barbara S. Hulka Distinguished Professor of epidemiology, will serve as the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s interim associate dean for research. Olshan fills the position left by Penny Gordon-Larsen, PhD, Carla Smith Chamblee Distinguished Professor of Global Nutrition, who served in the role since September 2018 and has been named interim Vice Chancellor for Research at UNC-Chapel Hill
For the third consecutive year, leadership at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health was honored with the Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for outstanding commitment to and ongoing promotion of inclusive excellence. As the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the urgent need for racial justice, the Gillings community is dedicated to dismantling the systems of racism that create barriers to equitable health.
SELECTED FACULTY/STAFF HONORS
Ralph Baric, PhD, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, recently received several honors and recognitions for his coronavirus research:
- The 2021 Oliver Max Gardner Award, the highest honor the UNC System confers on faculty members. Established by the will of former N.C. Gov. O. Max Gardner, the award recognizes faculty who have “made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.”
- Induction into the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest distinctions for a scientist or engineer in the U.S., recognizing distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
- The North Carolina Award, the state’s highest civilian honor. Governor Roy Cooper presented Baric with the award, which was created by the General Assembly in 1961 to recognize significant contributions to the state and nation in the fields of fine arts, literature, public service and science.
Shelley Golden, PhD, associate professor and vice chair for academic affairs for the Gillings School’s Department of Health Behavior, received The Graduate School’s 2021 Faculty Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring. The annual award recognizes a faculty member who encourages students to establish their own record of scholarly activity, provides a supportive environment, and achieves a successful record of graduate degree completion among the students they have advised.
Sandra Greene, DrPH, professor of the practice in the Department of Health Policy and Management and senior research fellow and co-director of the program on health care economics and finance at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, was recently appointed as chair of the N.C. State Health Coordinating Council (SHCC) by Governor Roy Cooper’s office. The SHCC oversees health planning in the state and develops the annual State Medical Facilities Plan to guide expansion of health care services in this state.
Stephen Hursting, PhD, MPH, the American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund Distinguished Professor at Gillings, has been named director of the UNC NRI, following the retirement of Steve Zeisel, MD, PhD, professor of nutrition Based in Kannapolis, N.C., the NRI advances precision nutrition by investigating how genetics, gut microbiota and environment affect an individual’s requirements for and responses to nutrients.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) named David Martinez, PhD, postdoctoral researcher at UNC Gillings, as part of a cohort of 21 early career researchers who were named 2020 Hanna H. Gray Fellows.
Benjamin Mason Meier, JD, LLM, PhD, professor of global health policy, received the 2021 Mid-Career Award in International Health from the American Public Health Association (APHA). This award recognizes an outstanding mid-career professional with demonstrated achievement and commitment to international health promotion and development.
Beth Moracco, PhD, associate professor of health behavior and associate director of the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center, received the University’s 2021 Edward Kidder Graham Award, which is given to those who fulfill Graham’s ambition “to make the campus co-extensive with the boundaries of the state” in the context of UNC’s mission to extend knowledge-based service around the world.
Aunchalee Palmquist, PhD, MA, IBCLC, assistant professor of maternal and child health, received the Gillings Faculty Award for Excellence in Health Equity Research, which recognizes faculty who demonstrate excellence in research that has made a substantial impact on improved equitable outcomes or sustained reduction in inequities in a pressing public health issue.
Susan M. Smith, PhD, has been named the inaugural holder of The Dickson Foundation-Harris Teeter Distinguished Professorship in nutrition. Smith, who joined the faculty in 2016, is a professor of nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and serves as deputy director for science at UNC’s NRI.
Courtney Woods, PhD, associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering, received a UNC-Chapel Hill Public Service Award for outstanding contributions to the campus and broader communities. She received the Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award in the category of research, recognizing her collaborative environmental justice research projects and establishment of the Environmental Justice Action Research Clinic.
Two researchers from the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering were named to committees convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to tackle some of the country’s most pressing environmental health challenges. Barbara Turpin, PhD, professor and chair of environmental sciences and engineering, is part of the committee to study the chemistry of urban wildfires in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), the area where urban homes transition into undeveloped wildland. Glenn Morrison, PhD, professor of environmental sciences and engineering, has been named to the committee that will study the emerging science on indoor air chemistry, focusing on under-reported chemical science discoveries that show a link between chemical exposure, air quality and human health.
Nine Gillings faculty members were named to Clarivate’s 2021 Highly Cited Researchers list, which recognizes significant influence in their fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. Their names are drawn from the publications that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and publication year. The faculty members are:
- Ralph S. Baric, PhD, William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of epidemiology.
- Noel T. Brewer, PhD, Gillings Distinguished Professor in Public Health and professor of health behavior.
- Stephen R. Cole, PhD, professor of epidemiology.
- Kelly R. Evenson, PhD, professor of epidemiology.
- Hans W. Paerl, PhD, professor of marine and environmental sciences and engineering and William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor at UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences.
- Barry M. Popkin, PhD, William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of nutrition.
- Bryce Reeve, PhD, adjunct professor of health policy and management at Gillings, and professor of population health sciences and Pediatrics within the Duke University School of Medicine.
- Timothy Sheahan, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology.
- David J. Weber, MD, professor of medicine, pediatrics and epidemiology, and associate chief medical officer of UNC Health Care.
Five Gillings faculty members were recognized by Expertscape as some of the top experts in their fields, based on scientific publications since 2010 from the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed journal database:
- Adaora Adimora, MD, professor of epidemiology at Gillings and the Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Medicine;
- Cynthia Bulik, PhD, FAED, professor of nutrition and the Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders in UNC’s Department of Psychiatry;
- Myron Cohen, MD, professor of epidemiology and is the Yeargan-Bate Eminent Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine;
- Joseph Eron, MD, adjunct professor of epidemiology and the Herman and Louise Smith Distinguished Professor of Medicine; and
- Ralph Baric, PhD, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor in the Gillings School’s Department of Epidemiology and a professor of microbiology and immunology with UNC’s School of Medicine.
The student-nominated Teaching Excellence and Innovation Awards honor Gillings faculty members who inspire students; enhance student learning through creative, engaging and innovative teaching methods; and/or support student success in the classroom and student growth as public health professionals. The 2022 award winners are:
- Jamie Crandell, PhD, associate professor of biostatistics and nursing;
- Brian Wells Pence, PhD, professor of epidemiology;
- Julia Rager, PhD, assistant professor of environmental sciences and engineering;
- Patsy Polston, PhD, assistant professor of health behavior;
- Katie Meyer, ScD, assistant professor of nutrition; and
- Jennifer Medearis Costello, MS, adjunct faculty for academic affairs.
Clare Barrington, PhD, associate professor of health behavior and director of the doctoral program in health behavior, received one of the School’s most prestigious awards, the Bernard G. Greenberg Alumni Endowment Award for teaching, research and service.
Andrew Olshan, PhD, Barbara S. Hulka Distinguished Professor of epidemiology and interim associate dean for research, received the John E. Larsh Jr. Award for Mentorship, one of the School’s most prestigious awards, which recognizes the faculty member who best exemplifies the qualities of mentoring and commitment to students.
Daniel Westreich, PhD, professor of epidemiology, received the Edward G. McGavran Award for Excellence in Teaching, which recognizes career-long excellence in teaching by a faculty member at the Gillings School.
Dilshad Jaff, MD, MPH, Gillings Humanitarian Fellow, received the 2022 Harriet Hylton Barr Distinguished Alumni Award, which honors an alumnus or alumna for outstanding achievements and contributions to public health.
Celette Sugg Skinner, PhD — alumna, adjunct professor of health behavior at Gillings and member of the Gillings School’s Public Health Foundation board — has been selected as the first dean of a new school of public health to be launched at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern in Dallas, on an interim basis. The UT System Board of Regents approved plans for the new school in February 2021.
M. Katherine Banks, PhD, was chosen by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents as president of the system’s flagship institution, Texas A&M University. A member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, she earned a Master of Science degree in environmental sciences and engineering from Gillings in 1986, followed by a doctoral degree from Duke University. Banks had previously served as Texas A&M Engineering Vice Chancellor and Dean, and as Vice Chancellor of Engineering and National Laboratories and College of Engineering dean.
Ronald Aubert, PhD, was appointed interim dean of the Brown University School of Public Health while the dean is on short-term leave for a temporary special assignment as the White House coronavirus response coordinator. Aubert, who received his doctoral degree in epidemiology from Gillings, had been serving as interim associate dean for diversity and inclusion at Brown’s School of Public Health and faculty director of the university’s Presidential Scholars Program.
Michael “Trey” Crabb III, MHA ‘01, MBA, was named senior vice president and chief business development officer at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, which operates health care facilities across the Mid-South region. Crabb earned a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree in health policy and management and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the Kenan-Flagler Business School. For nine years, Crabb served on the Public Health Foundation Board.
Alex Gertner, PhD, a 2020 doctoral alumnus in health policy and management, has received two honors for his dissertation for research into the use of effective treatments for opioid use disorder (OUD) in Medicaid beneficiaries: The Dean’s Distinguished Dissertation Award from The Graduate School at UNC in the field of social sciences, and the Annual Outstanding Dissertation Award from AcademyHealth, a professional organization for health services researchers, health policy analysts and health practitioners. Gertner’s dissertation research was published in a June 2020 study in Health Services Research and an August 2020 study in Health Affairs.
Jessica Melton, MHA, was named president and chief operating officer of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. Suburban is nationally recognized for excellence and is a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Melton graduated with an MHA degree from Gillings in 2007 and serves on the Public Health Foundation Board.
Jennifer Mundt, MSPH, was named the N.C. Department of Commerce’s first assistant secretary of clean energy economic development and will lead the state’s efforts to develop opportunities in the clean energy industry. Mundt earned a Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) degree from the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering in 2007.
Sharon Phares, PhD, MPH, was named the chief scientific officer for the National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC), where she directs NPC’s research strategy and oversees research related to policy that affects the pharmaceutical industry. She received an MPH from the Gillings School’s Public Health Leadership Program in 2010.
William Ray, MPH, was appointed as North Carolina’s director of emergency management and the deputy homeland security advisor at the N.C. Department of Public Safety. Ray earned an MPH from the Gillings Public Health Leadership Program in 2010 and a graduate certificate in Community Preparedness and Disaster Management from the Department of Health Policy and Management.
Sara Roszak, DrPH, has been named senior vice president, health and wellness strategy and policy for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), and president of the NCADS Foundation, which seeks to improve patient health through research, education and philanthropy. An adjunct professor of clinical education at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, she earned a Doctor of Public Health degree from Gillings’ executive program in health leadership in 2019.
Vilma S. Santana, MD, PhD, was inducted into the Academia de Medicine da Bahia (Bahia Academy of Medicine). This honor recognizes her dedication to a career of education, research and forming partnerships to advance public health globally. She earned a doctoral degree from the UNC Gillings Department of Epidemiology in 1994.
Kevin Tate, MHA, was named UNC Family Medicine’s new vice chair for administration. An alumnus of the UNC Gillings School for Global Public Health, he earned a MHA degree from the School’s Department of Health Policy and Management in 2005.
The following Gillings alumni have received appointments in the Biden-Harris administration:
- Mayra Alvarez, MHA ’05, serves on the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.
- Chip Hughes, MPH ‘82, was named Deputy Assistant Secretary for Emergency and Pandemic Response in the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Anne Reid, MPH ’08, was appointed deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Paula Brown Stafford, MPH, was named Triangle Business Journal’s 2022 Women in Business Lifetime Achievement Award winner. A biopharmaceutical executive and leadership consultant with more than 35 years of industry experience, she is currently the president, chief executive officer and chairperson of the board of directors of Novan, Inc., a clinical development-stage biotechnology company. She is an adjunct professor in the Gillings Public Health Leadership Program.
Five Gillings alumni were named in the Triangle Business Journal’s 2021 40 under 40 list, which highlights the Triangle’s best and brightest business and community leaders younger than 40 years. The 40 under 40 list highlights people who will shape the Triangle for years to come. The list includes three alumnae of the Department of Health Policy and Management — Morgan Jones, MSPH ‘07, Randi Towns, BSPH ‘15, and Dharmi Tailor, JD, BSPH ‘10; and alumna of the Department of Health Behavior, Rachel Page, MPH ‘11; and Andrew Herrera, MPH ‘17, MBA, an alumnus from the Public Health Leadership Program.
Frederic Karl Pfaender, PhD, emeritus professor of environmental sciences and engineering at Gillings, passed away in March 2022 at age 78. After earning his doctoral degree at Cornell University in 1971, Pfaender taught environmental sciences and microbiology at the Gillings School for more than four decades. A loyal member of the American Society for Microbiology for 56 years, he travelled internationally in service of his chosen science and proudly mentored graduate and doctoral students. In addition to being a dedicated educator and mentor, Pfaender also contributed to the building and renovation plans for Rosenau Hall and Michael Hooker Research Center. When he and his wife Sheila, former assistant director for program and resource development at the N.C. Institute for Public Health, retired to Alleghany County in the late 2000s, Fred refocused his passion and energy on several community-oriented committees and initiatives.
David Steffen, DrPH, who was a clinical assistant professor in the Public Health Leadership Program (PHLP) until 2017, passed away in July 2021. Steffen, who worked as district public health director for the State of New Mexico Department of Public Health, earned his Doctor of Public Health degree in 2000 and, in 2001, was recruited by the N.C. Institute for Public Health to run the National Public Health Leadership Institute, which trained senior leaders in governmental agencies, academia, health care, associations, nonprofit organizations, foundations and other partner organizations. His influence in health leadership extended into the UNC School of Medicine, where he co-directed the Academic Career Leadership Academy in Medicine program, which provides leadership education to junior faculty members at the School, with an emphasis on those underrepresented in medicine. The Steffen family has established the David Steffen and Jill Kerr Family Scholarship to support PHLP students who demonstrate a commitment to improving public health practice.
William T. “Bill” Small Jr., MSPH, former associate dean and senior advisor for multicultural affairs, passed away in April 2021 at age 82. He earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry from North Carolina Central University and a MSPH degree from the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at Gillings. After working as an occupational health chemist for the state, Small joined Gillings in 1971 as coordinator of minority affairs. During his tenure moved into the roles of assistant dean for students, associate dean for students, and associate dean and senior advisor for multicultural affairs. Small helped shape the Minority Student Caucus and supported the foundation of the Minority Health Conference, which features the “Annual William T. Small Jr. Keynote Lecture.” In 2010, he and his wife, Rosa, endowed the William Thomas Small Jr. and Rosa Williamson Small Scholarship, which focuses on enhancing the social, economic and cultural diversity of the student body.