First I would like to thank those who came before me, especially to the university's administration and committee of faculty who believed in the need for School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan. It is a great honor and privilege to be given the opportunity to warmly welcome all of you to our School of Public Health as the inaugural Executive Director.
I expect and anticipate the upcoming academic year of 2011-2012 to be one full of success and challenges; a year characterized by:
It is our mission to improve the health of individuals in our regional, national and global communities; create, disseminate and apply public health knowledge in critical areas of need; and recruit and expertly train high caliber students to become the next generation of promising and visionary public health leaders. We will accomplish this by seeking prevention for diseases, working to understand and positively impact the health of First Nations' People, addressing and creatively solving issues on health disparities, improving access, quality, and cost of health care, protecting human and animal health as well as natural environments, and above all, being dedicated and committed to educating the next generation of public health practitioners so they will be able to make their own significant contributions to the betterment of the flawed world they now inherit.
My short-term and long-term goals for our SPH are concise, ambitious and feasible. I consider these goals to represent the 8 pillars of our school:
This represents my vision and steadfast commitment to our SPH and community. I am prepared to work diligently and tirelessly in an effort to fulfill our mission and accomplish our goals. I hope you all feel as I do, proud and privileged to be a part of this exciting school and great university. We are here to seek, to strive, to succeed, to grow and never to entertain the status quo.
Please join us as we continue to build our School of Public Health.
First and foremost, thank you to all of my faculty, staff and especially the students, for another successful academic year! We were able to make much progress and I am delighted with the journey that the School of Public Health has taken thus far. I am honored to be the Executive Director of an excellent student body, a great faculty and dedicated staff members.
This past academic year has earned excellent recognition for the School of Public Health by attaining the largest international student body of any Public Health program in Canada. We have student representation from 21 countries, and I am proud of the variety and diversity that exists among all years of our Masters of Public Health (MPH) program, as well as within the other programs of our School. My commitment to work across the globe is to gain recognition for our School of Public Health by recruiting and attracting students from different areas of the world. In an effort to assist with this process, the School of Public Health has begun its journey toward achieving accreditation through the Association for Schools of Public Health of the European Region (ASPHER). I will be traveling to Copenhagen, Denmark in November 2011 for the Annual European Public Health Conference to present the School of Public Health for permanent membership status with ASPHER.
One of the successes marked by the SPH for this past academic year included 5 successful placements of 1st year MPH students to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland for their individual practicum opportunities. The feedback from students and supervisors was wonderful, and we are looking forward to more successful placements for the incoming 1st year class of 2011 for the summer of 2012.
The School of Public Health was recently able to successfully obtain a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office on Smoking and Health, stationed in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A., as another practicum opportunity for a qualified MPH student, for the upcoming summer of 2012. Dr. Wayne Stephens and Dr. Shanta Dube recently visited the U of S campus to present and meet with interested SPH students regarding the many valuable opportunities available at the Office on Smoking and Health with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This newly established relationship is sure to provide ample opportunities for not only students, but faculty as well, as there will be chances for faculty to collaborate with our colleagues from the Office on Smoking and Health. I am delighted that the School was able to secure the first Canadian placement as an official CDC site.
This August and September 2011 marked the first year of our newly launched MPH online program! I am excited to announce that the program has been successful thus far, and that it is expanding and growing with each day that passes. This program is a great opportunity for students who are unable to attend classes full time due to other commitments, including work, or for those that do not live within proximity to Saskatoon. We were able to include 10 students in the program for this year, and hope to be able to include more for the 2012-2013 academic year. With the ever changing settings in which University classes are delivered, I am happy to be on board with the growing technology inventions and uses available to society.
I am firmly committed to my initial goals put forward in my inaugural address, including, aggressively increasing student enrolment, faculty recruitment and research productivity. Although we have already experienced an incredible amount of student growth among our MPH program, I am working tirelessly to ensure that we attain and maintain a full class with each passing academic year. Considering that we have been extremely successful in recruiting and retaining students to our SPH programs, I am now working hard to recruit new faculty members to join our growing programs. The School will be pursuing faculty searches as the opportunities arise. Lastly, an area of the School of Public Health that I wish to highlight and increase is research productivity. It is essential to the continued growth, knowledge creation and translation, of the School among all other Canadian Public Health programs, and internationally as well. Of course, my commitment to international research and exchange programs will continue to thrive as I progressively search for new and exciting ways to get our School of Public Health students and faculty involved in opportunities occurring at a National and International level.
I would like to thank my entire faculty, staff and students for an incredible year, and I am certainly excited for the opportunities that will arise within this upcoming academic year.Sincerely,
Robert W. Buckingham, DrPH