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Harrison C. Spencer Award

The ASPPH Harrison C. Spencer Award for Outstanding Community Service was created to honor Dr. Spencer, who had a long-standing commitment to principles of social justice with a focus on community engagement to address the social determinants of health. This annual award is given to an ASPPH-member, CEPH- accredited school or program of public health demonstrating a major institutional commitment to addressing community needs through education, practice, and/or research.

2022 Awardee

University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences

The University of Massachusetts Amherst, School of Public Health and Health Sciences has been actively engaged with various community partners in Western Massachusetts (MA) for the last two decades. During the last few years in particular, that engagement has resulted in impactful educational and intervention programs, as well as internship opportunities that have uplifted the power of community members and created authentic campus community partnerships.

The partnerships between the school and the community organizations have been built on trust and respect. They are also balanced, mutually beneficial, and have grown over time to deal with more complex and difficult issues.

The SPHHS places health equity at the core of its community engaged activities through their work with the Office for Public Health Practice and Outreach (OPHPO), the Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network (WMHEN) and the Center for Community Health Equity Research (CCHER). Two individuals who led the school’s outreach efforts, Ms. Risa Silverman and Ms. Brenda Evans are instrumental in conducting the work of OPHOP, WMHEN and CCHER. They are beloved members of the community in which they work and demonstrate the power of being culturally competent. The effort by each of these entities has helped SPHHS build lasting relationships with community partners. These connections lead to more fulfilling practica and volunteer opportunities offered to SPHHS students. The efforts have also enabled external stakeholders to become more familiar with SPHHS and students in all departments. The relationships have enhanced the ability of faculty to work in communities to pursue community-based research, and have been mutually beneficial to community organizations that rely on expertise within SPHHS for programming, research, and other opportunities. The SPHHS has been involved in supporting public health policy and programs in the state that extend their impact beyond that of Western MA.

The bond between the school and community is strong and enduring. That engagement will continue to thrive and be at the center of their mission.