NSights Blog

Becoming a dean of Public Health during a pandemic

Public Health Week gives us an opportunity to spotlight all the ways the School of Public Health has been "here" for our communities

The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped our world. Because of this enormous challenge, our personal and professional lives needed to change. In August 2021, I was in the process of moving from Virginia to Nevada to start my new job as the Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada, Reno. Having the strength of a knowledgeable and productive team by my side during this time has been crucial for the ongoing success of our School. I’m particularly proud to highlight them as we’re in the midst of National Public Health Week.

While it was a challenging transition in the middle of a pandemic, it was also one of the best times to become the Dean for the School of Public Health. In light of COVID-19, the pandemic had increased visibility for our discipline which brought us new opportunities to improve health for our communities. I’m hopeful all the recent visibility gained by public health will foster improved circumstances and secure resources for the future.

I am impressed with how our faculty, staff, and students have adapted so well to the shifting circumstances surrounding COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, our School of Public Health has seen rapid growth. In order to sustain this growth, our school needs to work collaboratively with community leaders. I want to leverage new and existing resources which will support and guide incoming generations who choose to pursue public health. It is my hope that new collaborations and partnerships will equip and empower students and faculty to be the future of public health.

It's been an honor working with such a dedicated and successful faculty and staff so far. We also have a very competent student body, loyal alumni and supportive community partners locally, nationally, and internationally. As a leader in both academia and in public health, it is my goal to create a culturally inclusive and productive environment that’s prepared to utilize resources which will ultimately benefit our community at large. A Dean’s success should be measured by their team’s success – and I’m extremely impressed with the caliber of my team.

The wellbeing of our communities is always our top priority and our mission is to help and support them during this difficult time. On behalf of the School of Public Health, we are dedicated to addressing health needs in Nevada, the United States and around the world. I look forward to working with the community to benefit from our collective strength and move our school’s mission forward.

Every year, the first full week in April recognizes National Public Health Week. This year’s theme is, “Public Health is Where You Are” which can be represented physically, mentally and societally. The School of Public Health, along with our spectacular faculty and students embody this theme by being, “here” for our communities.

It’s time to build a strong public health model for Nevada, together.

Dean Muge Akpinar
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