ASPPH logo


School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Every Week is Public Health Week at UNC!

The following special events, hosted by the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health’s N.C. Institute for Public Health, are scheduled at UNC during the week of April 4-10 in celebration of National Public Health Week. Read on, however, to learn about the School’s wider ‘Culture of Health’ initiative. The initiative’s positive focus on eating well, moving more and improving health behaviors leads toward a better environment in which to work and study.


[Photo: Nearly one in three families whose children need diapers struggle to afford this basic purchase. The Diaper Bank of North Carolina works with community partners to deliver diapers to families in need. Photo courtesy of the Diaper Bank of N.C.]

Mr. Patrick Fine, chief executive officer of FHI 360, will describe how his experience in the Peace Corps shaped his career in global health. Noon in Armfield Atrium, Michael Hooker Research Center.

Dr. Abe Wandersman, an implementation science researcher from the University of South Carolina, will present a lecture and lead a discussion on implementation science. 12:30 p.m. in 133 Rosenau Hall.

Dr. Dilshad Jaff, a Baghdad-trained physician, describes his efforts to help primary health centers in disputed areas of Iraq. Noon, in 133 Rosenau Hall.

Studies show that nearly one in three families struggle to afford diapers. The Diaper Bank of North Carolina works with community partners to help deliver diapers to families in need. On Friday, members of the UNC community will join in a group volunteer effort to wrap diaper bundles for distribution. Learn more and sign up to volunteer here.


[Photo: Ms. Penny Slade-Sawyer, former U.S. assistant surgeon general, leads the ‘Culture of Health’ initiative at UNC’s Gillings School. Ms. Slade-Sawyer is shown here after running in the 2002 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., to benefit AIDS research.]

Former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General Guides UNC Toward a ‘Culture of Health’

“Every day, you should take your dog for a long walk – even if you don’t have a dog!” says Ms. Penny Slade-Sawyer, with a grin.

Ms. Slade-Sawyer, a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service, former assistant surgeon general in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and former director of the N.C. Division of Public Health, has built a career on promoting – and modeling – good health practices such as eating nutritious food and taking part in regular physical activity.

She runs, bikes, plays tennis. She has taught aerobics classes and played on a championship basketball team – and yes, she walks her dog between two and four miles each day. Only rarely can one find her standing still.

She joined the staff of UNC in February 2015, when she was hired to lead a “Culture of Health” initiative at the school, to help encourage those who work, teach or study here to make as many daily healthy choices as possible.

“Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation [RWJF], began using the phrase ‘culture of health’ a while ago,” Ms. Slade-Sawyer says. “RWJF began an initiative ‘to encourage individuals, businesses, government and organizations to foster healthy communities and lifestyles,’ and Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey foresaw a vibrant American ‘culture of health’ in which all of us would try a few new things to preserve and improve our health.”

Ms. Slade-Sawyer says that Dr. Barbara K. Rimer, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at UNCl, responded to RWJF’s challenge, supporting the School community in developing its own culture of health. “In this way,” Slade-Sawyer says, “we’re all able to play a part in developing a healthier America.”

Since her arrival, Ms. Slade-Sawyer has taken on a number of initiatives. She has mapped out and leads regular 10-minute walking breaks for people at the Gillings School, guaranteeing that they leave their desks and computers periodically. She has instituted yoga classes and mindfulness sessions, held events offering samples of healthful snacks, along with their recipes, and invited the owner of two therapy dogs to visit the School during exams to help students relieve stress.

“The response from faculty and staff members – and students – has been so positive,” Ms. Slade-Sawyer says. “Many people in the UNC community already are engaged in healthy lifestyles, and they exercise on their own. They have expressed strong support for our efforts to spread the word about the benefits of physical activity.”

From marathons to sculling, from crossfit to martial arts, members of the UNC community are engaged in a number of regular physical activities. See how we enjoy our ‘culture of health.’


[Dean Barbara K. Rimer (left) shares a laugh with staff member Mr. Bryan Andregg as the prototype UNC bike is debuted at the end of March.]

Tarheel-Blue Gillings School bike fleet to be in place later this spring

As part of the UNC’s ‘Culture of Health’ initiative, School leaders are investing in a small fleet of bicycles to make it easier for members of  UNC’s community to get exercise by cycling on campus.

Read Dean Barbara K. Rimer’s blog and learn about her excited support of the project.