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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

UNC Alumnus Selected as Distinguished Professor at University of Alabama

Dr. S. Robert Hernandez, 1981 alumnus of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s department of health policy and management, has been appointed Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Health Professions.

[Photo: Dr. Robert Hernandez (right) poses with Dr. Christy Harris Lemak, chair of University of Alabama-Birmingham’s department of health services administration, and the proclamation recognizing his distinguished professorship.]

The Distinguished Service Professor position, appointed by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, recognizes a professor’s academic service to UAB and their international accomplishments.

“Bob was an early adopter of extending UAB’s reach beyond the United States and his dedication to improving health care around the world has helped place UAB on the international academic map,” said UAB School of Health Professions dean, Dr.  Harold P. Jones. “Today, he continues to have an unstinting dedication to UAB’s standards of excellence in all of his endeavors and he is a tremendous addition to this prestigious rank.”

Dr. Hernandez, also an alumnus of UAB’s Master of Science in Health Administration program, is director of UAB’s doctoral programs in administration health services, senior associate chair for global health in the department of health services administration and director of International Education for the School of Health Professions. He is also founding director of the UAB Doctor of Science in Administration-Health Services program.

“I am fortunate to have had wonderful colleagues here at UAB who have shared my interest in improving health care delivery – not only in Alabama but throughout the world,” said Dr. Hernandez. “We all have benefitted from our work with international colleagues as we address complex problems that all health care systems face.”

During his more-than-40-year career at UAB, Dr. Hernandez has mentored countless students who have become major leaders in the health care industry. He has served on more than 40 doctoral committees and chaired more than 20 doctoral dissertation committees.

“I can’t think of anyone at UAB who has had more of an impact on international health-care education than has Bob,” said Dr. Christy Harris Lemak, chair of UAB’s department of health services administration. “Over the years, he has led hundreds of U.S.-based health-care executives to study health systems in other countries. That not only broadens worldviews, but it also encourages a ‘global citizen’ outlook for health-care policy, management and care delivery.”

Dr. Hernandez cultivated university partnerships in the Ukraine, Armenia, China, the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia to build sustainable capacity by developing local health administration faculty members and providing educational opportunities for clinicians and administrators responsible for leading care-delivery organizations in their home countries.

In 2009, he provided leadership to develop an international track of UAB’s Executive Master of Science in Health Administration program and led the effort to form a partnership between UAB and the King Fahad Specialist Hospital-Dammam in Saudi Arabia. In 2013, UAB graduated the first class of Saudi Arabian hospital administrators.

Currently, Hernandez is the only American representative on the 31-member European Academy of Management (EURAM) Board.

“During his time in Chapel Hill, Bob had a clear vision that organization and management theory must be relevant to the realities of health-care management,” said Dr. Arnold Kaluzny, professor emeritus of health policy and management at the Gillings School and director of the department’s doctoral program while Hernandez was earning his Doctor of Public Health degree. “That health care is more than a commercial enterprise – that it is a human enterprise requiring a fundamental understanding of its unique characteristics and the importance of collaboration between clinicians and management – was a vision that guided Bob throughout his career. That vision was the foundation of the many contributions he has made to health-care management education within the U.S. and throughout the global community.”

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