Dear School of Public Health Faculty and Staff:

In June we established a School of Public Health (SPH) Task Force on Racial Equity and Inclusion to identify specific actions that the School can take to address and reduce systemic racism and police violence against Black people and other underrepresented groups at the university and in society. The Task Force has provided initial recommendations in the areas of curriculum and training; recruitment, admissions, and retention; and community engagement and partnership. In response to these recommendations, the School is taking several immediate actions:

  • To guide implementation of the Task Force recommendations, I am establishing the position of Special Advisor to the Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Upon appointment, this individual will work to implement several training programs, including training for all SPH instructors on addressing issues of race in the classroom as well as implicit bias training for all faculty and staff who participate in the student admissions process. The DEI Advisor will plan opportunities for facilitated discussion in a safe space on racial and health equity and will work with our two department chairs and our Associate Dean for Research to significantly increase engagement between students of color and faculty in the area of research.

  • On Tuesday, September 15, SPH will host Dr. Chandra Ford to lead a virtual presentation (1 - 2pm) and workshop (2 - 4pm) on racism in public health. Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice, and Health and Professor at UCLA, Dr. Ford is an internationally recognized expert on the relationship between racism and health disparities. Please register here for the 1 - 2pm virtual presentation. More information on the 2 - 4pm workshop will be shared soon. All faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to attend both, and a copy of her book, Racism: Science and Tools for the Public Health Professional, will be made available for each of you.

  • The School of Public Health will now require a statement of diversity and inclusion as part of the application process for all faculty positions within the School. Additionally, the DEI Advisor will work with the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and the established tenure track and non-tenure track promotion and tenure manual revision committees to review and propose revisions that address issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • The School of Public Health has initiated the process of deliberation for a proposed change to our admissions policy such that the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) standardized test might no longer be required for admission to some or all of our public health graduate programs. This proposal is being reviewed for consideration by the SPH Academic Affairs Committee and SPH departments and may be sent forward for a school-wide faculty vote in order to move forward for university-level review.

  • As Interim Dean, I have been working to ensure equitable reopening plans for both Georgia State University and the School of Public Health. This includes ensuring that the needs of all students, faculty, and staff are considered in planning for the return to campus and in testing and surveillance planning, that all faculty and students have the option of online learning, and that there are contingency plans to support and to protect international students. 

Thank you to the members of the SPH Task Force on Racial Equity and Inclusion for their initial recommendations. The Task Force will continue to identify actions for the short, medium, and long term to uphold our commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Your engagement, support, and participation in these efforts will be vital to their success.

Warmly,
Rodney Lyn, Ph.D., MS
Interim Dean
School of Public Health
Georgia State University