GSU President: Public Health Roles Must Be Clear Cut

Universities must develop collaborative partnerships with corporations and non-profits to address global public health issues, according to Georgia State University President Mark Becker at an Atlanta leadership summit on May 21.

As a former dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Becker said that for these partnerships to work, universities must also recognize their role as educational and research institutions and not as primary service providers or funders.

“From a university perspective, if we’re to have a role in any of this, it’s always going to be through collaborative partnerships,” he said. “Our mission is to produce research and produce partners in research. Our mission is to educate. Our mission is to develop the next generation of leaders.”

The challenge for universities, according to Dr. Becker, is now to create educational atmospheres that foster the development of “life-changing or defining experiences” for students through internships and hands-on research.

“There’s so much more than you can get out of your university experience than just going to classes and getting your degree,” he said.

With the May 3 announcement of Georgia State’s founding dean of its School of Public Health, Michael Eriksen, the school plans to position itself as a leading research university dedicated to research and education on global health issues.

For example, Christine Stauber, an environmental microbiologist at Georgia State, has worked with the World Bank and North Carolina State University on ways to purify household water treatment with limited resources in developing countries.

The summit held May 21 on global health and water was organized by the Center for Strategic & International Studies and the World Affairs Council of Atlanta, which is hosted by Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business and part of national network of similar councils across the country that seek to expand discussion and knowledge about global issues, government and business.

Various members of the Atlanta business community, including corporate sponsors Coca-Cola Co. and United Parcel Service Inc., sponsored the event in collaboration with cooperating organizations like the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory Global Health and the Carter Center.

Delegates from the international community also attended the conference to advocate on issues of global health and water availability, including the first lady of Niger, Malika Issoufou Mahamadou.

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This story first appeared on GlobalAtlanta.com in May, 2012.

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