Dean's Update

November 11, 2022 - Aron Sousa, MD

Members of the Flint Public Health Youth Academy and APHA conference attendees.

Members of the Flint Public Health Youth Academy and APHA conference attendees.


Late October and early November are the thick of academic conference season, and after a couple years of dreadful virtual conferences, the people I have seen at meetings are very happy to be back together discussing their work. We had a wonderful series of talks, posters, and events at the American Public Health Association national meeting in Boston. My main job was talking to people who might be interested in our new public health faculty positions, and I am delighted by the interest in our opportunities.

The college’s Division of Public Health hosted a joyous MSU reception on Monday night. Beyond our students, staff, and faculty, about half of the people who came to the reception were community partners, Ingham County Health Department members, or friends from across the university and the field. It was wonderful to meet and talk with people in person.

The following day, community partner and Flint resident, Ella Greene-Moton was voted president-elect of APHA. She is the first community partner to be elected as national APHA president and has been a longtime force in community-based participatory research at APHA. In Flint she is the Community Based Organization Partners (CBOP) Community Ethics Review Board (CERB) administrator and is an executive consultant and co-chair of the Flint/Genesee Partnership, Health in Our Hands project. This is a remarkable recognition of Ms. Greene-Moton and the talent of our community partners.

Ms. Greene-Moton is just one of the highly accomplished community partners that form the foundation of our success in Flint; she is not alone. I also had the chance to talk with Mrs. De Loney, Melissa Mays, and a host of other Flint citizen scientists and public health workers. The faculty are working on the next generation as well – the picture above is of the Flint Public Health Youth Academy headed by our own Kent Key, PhD.

Today is Veterans Day, honoring all those who have served in our nation’s military services, including our graduates who enter the military as physicians. They choose to care for and protect those who protect us – they take the same oath as other military officers to “…support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” Watching a group of our students march out in front of their colleagues to take this oath is very moving, and you can watch their fellow students recognize the additional commitment of these military physicians. Their service is inspiring, and I thank them, and all veterans, for their service.

For the next several weeks, I will be outlining the core features of the proposed College of Human Medicine’s strategic plan. Last week, I went over the proposed grand challenge to improve health equity. The strategic planning task force has been working on our major goals and strategies since last spring. Not every goal or area of scholarship can be in a strategic plan, but a good plan helps focus the college and guides important changes in how we implement projects and use our resources. One key goal area is “staff and faculty success,” which you will remember from the MSU 2030 Strategic Plan. Our goals build on the university’s plan, and you can see from the specific goals and strategies below that our focus is on the people of the college. Increasing joy can be a tall order in uncertain times, but I have faith that, together, we can find ways to make the college a happier place to work:

  • Goal - Increase joy, career satisfaction and retention of support staff, faculty, and academic staff
    • Strategy - Assess and respond to current career satisfaction and issues linked to retention and recruitment; Implement individualized approaches to career and skill development that fosters a sense of being valued.
    • Strategy - Establish policies and practices to enhance diversity, promote equity and ensure inclusivity.
    • Strategy - Examine policies, structures, and practices to promote a culture of inclusion, transparency, engagement, satisfaction, and joy.
    • Strategy - Revise compensation packages to improve recruitment and retention for support staff, faculty, and academic staff.
    • Strategy - Advance our reputation for hiring and nurturing talent.
  • Goal - Support career growth and development
    • Strategy - Expand and standardize systems for individualized career development, leadership development, and mentorship among faculty.
    • Strategy - Develop a roadmap that outlines career and leadership development for staff.
    • Strategy - Expand and increase access to professional development for both staff and faculty.
    • Strategy - Promote and support the development of faculty's public intellectual work.

It says something important that we have a goal to make those around us more satisfied and joyous in their work. Collectively, we will do all we can to improve our policies, our compensation, and our structures that enable our staff and faculty. This effort will make the college a better place to work. And, I want to point out our strategies designed to make work more impactful and meaningful, namely, more professional development for staff and faculty including in leadership and public intellectualism. In my experience we all find work more rewarding when we see the benefits our talents and effort bring to the world. Public health, medicine, science, and the humanities all exist to make a positive difference in the world. The college’s staff and faculty work in each of these disciplines in the hope their work will improve the lives of others. This is how they serve, and it is the college’s job to help make their work better and more joyous.

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD FACP


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