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Dean's Office

Donna J. Petersen, ScD, MHS, CPH
Donna J. Petersen
ScD, MHS, CPH

Dean's Message

September 15, 2017  

It is a beautiful Friday morning in Tampa and as I walked through the last vestiges of Hurricane Irma debris on our campus I experienced a great feeling of relief and gratitude. Relief that our university and our community did not experience the damage that it could have had the storm been stronger or kept to its western path.  And gratitude for the many members of our College of Public Health community who stepped up to help in preparations, response and recovery. Faculty, staff, students, alumni and members of their families opened shelters, manned phones, triaged critical incidents and distributed supplies. We have quite a few students who are active duty military or work for state and federal agencies who were deployed and continue to serve the recovery effort. Many in our communities remain without power and some homes and properties have been damaged; as such, others of us are volunteering to continue to support and serve those in need. Yesterday afternoon and evening in class we discussed the effects of catastrophic events on the health of the communities impacted and considered the great variety of “conditions” that need to be addressed to create opportunities for people to remain in good health. From the direct environmental exposures, to the economic impacts and the long-term mental health effects, these events provide great insight into the myriad ways public health professionals assess, collaborate, communicate and advocate for services and supports necessary to promote and protect the public’s health. While we would prefer not to experience such events, they provide important teachable moments and remind us of the seriousness of our work and the supreme responsibility we accept as public health professionals.

As we continue to support our local communities, our thoughts are with our academic public health colleagues in Miami, Gainesville, Tallahassee, Jacksonville and Houston who, similarly affected, are offering similar or greater supports and services to those communities. We stand in solidarity knowing that together, we can weather any storm.

Best wishes to all on a speedy recovery.
Welcome from Dean Peterson

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