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Message from Dean Guilarte: Four years of success, a bright future at Stempel

Dear faculty, students, staff, colleagues, friends, and supporters of Stempel College:

As we kick-off 2020, I wanted to take a moment to reflect back on my first four years at FIU and as dean of the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work.

When I first decided to come to FIU in 2015, I knew that one of my primary tasks would be to improve the visibility of the amazing work and potential at Stempel College. That included rebranding the college to give it a more vibrant identity that better matched our dynamic Miami setting, and also making every effort to ensure that the School of Public Health would be ranked by U.S. News & World Report, the gold standard of education rankings. While we would be happy to just be included on the list, my goals were high, and we aimed to be in the top 50. It is hard to describe the joy I felt the day those 2020 rankings were announced: School of Public Health was not only ranked for the first time, but it is now 49th among public institutions nationwide! The School of Social Work also showed a significant 11-point improvement, coming in 53rd among public universities.

As dean, I have the opportunity to look at the college as a whole, enhance what works best and make adjustments that are for the betterment of all.

As with any educational institution, it all starts with the students. We have a diverse and impressive student body who are the reason for our slogan, “together for the greater good.” While we strive to be affordable and offer real value to each student, I know that our students shine brightest when they can focus on studying, research and community service. For that reason I have ensured that, whenever possible, Stempel students get the scholarships and assistance they need to pursue their passions. We have reached the $1 million dollars per year of fellowship and scholarship support to students and we now have a central office – the Office of Student and Alumni Affairs – to help students identify and apply for internal and external funding opportunities.

We have developed new degree programs and enriched existing offers, so that our students graduate prepared to enter a 21st century workforce. Our Master of Public Health (MPH) program has grown by 36 percent since spring 2016 and we have launched a fully online MPH that gives students access to our programs regardless of their location. Additionally, the Academy for International Disaster Preparedness joined the college, bringing new certificate programs for first responders, an on-campus and online Master in Disaster Management and the Bachelor of Arts in Disaster Management was launched this semester – WELCOME TO ALL NEW STUDENTS!  

I have also made a considered effort to ensure that our college would stand out as a leader in the community from groundbreaking research to community programs. We have truly become a powerhouse for groundbreaking research, significantly increasing our research portfolio from $6.2 million in total award actions in 2016, to an amount that was more than $21 million in 2019. While those numbers are impressive, they are merely one way of gaging the incredible work being done in our labs and in the community. By hiring faculty who are funded and acclaimed for their work, we are making discoveries that are changing both lives and policy.

To have a real impact on health, we must look beyond our backdoor and seek opportunities to help communities both near and far. From meetings with our legislative leaders in Washington, D.C. to partnerships with universities as diverse as Colombia and Israel – Stempel College and FIU are globally recognized. These international partnerships extend the college’s reach and give us new opportunities for our research as well as student and faculty exchange. Part of our international collaboration includes incorporating the Global Health Consortium into the college and hosting the college’s marquee event, the Global Health Conference. We have also enhanced our international and special initiatives by growing a team dedicated to the growth and visibility of the college. 

Leading a college as dynamic as Stempel can only be done with the help of the many great members of our faculty and staff over the years. I have been blessed to work alongside a truly dedicated team and hire new leadership –including Drs. Zoran Bursac, Yasenka Peterson, and Jason R. Richardson– who are all helping me steer the course of the college. The contributions from faculty who have recently left –such as Drs. Benjamin Amick III, Consuelo Beck-Sague, and Virginia H. McCoy– will be missed and I am grateful for their time and dedication to Stempel college. As we look to the future of Stempel College, we have great plans that will ensure our success.

I look forward to an exciting future at Stempel College and encourage you to stay connected – read our news, visit us, and be in touch with any questions or suggestions. With an excellent team supporting me and dedication to our future, we remain together for the greater good!

Go Panthers!

Tomás R. Guilarte, Ph.D.

Dean, Stempel College

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