SPH news

Posted Date: August 27, 2015
Dean Kurz with new Interim Dean Dr. Dennis Thombs

Dean Kurz with new Interim Dean Dr. Dennis Thombs

Richard S. Kurz, PhD, Dean of the UNTHSC School of Public Health (SPH), will retire on August 31, after leading the SPH and serving as tenured Professor of Health Management and Policy for the last eight years. He will continue as an adjunct faculty member following retirement to complete several projects.

“Retirement is a decision my family and I have been considering for some time,” he said. “Over the last eight years, I have been very fortunate to work with an outstanding team of public health faculty and staff, and we have built a foundation for continued progress in the future. Our public health faculty, students, alumni and staff are making a difference in communities both locally and around the world.”

“As always, I send thanks to everyone I have worked with, both in and outside the school, for your support and commitment, and I hope you will continue to advance the momentum that we started,” Dr. Kurz said.

Left: Dean Kurz with new Interim Dean Dr. Dennis Thombs Right: Reverend Ralph Emerson wishes Dr. Kurz well in his retirement

Reverend Ralph Emerson wishes Dr. Kurz well in his retirement

Dr. Kurz retires after a lengthy career in academics and community service. He has served as Chair of the National Board of Public Health Examiners, as a Commissioner on the Accreditation for Healthcare Management Education, as Chair of the Association of University Programs in Health Administration, and on advisory boards and task forces for the CDC and Veterans Administration.

He has assisted the Texas Department of State Health Services with the accreditation of health departments and was recognized in the Dallas Business Journal’s “2013 Who’s Who in Health Care—25 People Who Are Changing the Industry in North Texas.” He received Texas Public Health Association’s 2013 President’s Award and the 2012 Healthcare Hero award from the Fort Worth, Texas, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and United Healthcare.

“We greatly appreciate Dr. Kurz’ leadership and vision,” said Thomas Yorio, PhD, UNTHSC Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Dr. Yorio presents retirement gift to Dr. Kurz featuring the school's official seal

Dr. Yorio presents retirement gift to Dr. Kurz featuring the school’s official seal

“Under his leadership, the school launched a number of successful initiatives, including a Master of Health Administration program, a new doctorate program, online programs and the Texas Prevention Institute. Dr. Kurz has also been very active in leading community collaborations to study and solve some of our most pressing health issues, such as infant mortality.”

As a national search is conducted, Dennis Thombs, PhD, FAAHB, will serve as interim Dean of the SPH.

He has served as Professor and Chair of the school’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health for the last five years.

He is also Director of the school’s Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program.

Dr. Thombs, a past President of the American Academy of Health Behavior, is the author of Introduction to Addictive Behaviors, now in its fourth edition.

His research on addictive behavior has been supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute of Mental Health and U.S. Department of Education.

He has authored 80 articles in peer-reviewed national and international journals.

Posted Date: August 14, 2015

Udoka_ObinwaUNT Health Science Center student Udoka Obinwa has been awarded the Dr. Gerry C. Gunnin Public Health Memorial Scholarship from Texas Health Resources.

Obinwa is a Master of Public Health (MPH) student in the UNTHSC School of Public Health’s Biostatistics and Epidemiology Department.

Prior to enrolling with UNTHSC, Obinwa studied parasitology, entomology and medical laboratory science, gaining skills in infectious disease diagnosis and prevention.

“I grew up in Nigeria, a country that still suffers greatly from infectious diseases like malaria, typhoid fever, schistosomiasis, HIV/AIDS and so on,” he said. “I chose to study parasitology and entomology at the university level to gain knowledge for combatting these diseases. After graduation, I volunteered at the Regional Reference laboratory of Global Health AIDS Initiative Nigeria (GhAIN) in Wukari, Taraba State, where I helped evaluate a large number of registered HIV patients due for free Antiretroviral Therapy. I later participated in a malaria indicator survey conducted by the Carter Center in Plateau State, Nigeria, where I witnessed a high burden of malaria and anemia among children in some rural areas. These experiences spurred me to seek further training in public health.”

Obinwa calls himself “passionate about improving the health of individuals, especially vulnerable groups like children.”

He has been involved in community health services and events with the Tarrant County Public Health Department, Baylor Scott and White Medical Center, UNTHSC Safe Transition and the Student Outbreak Response Team.

He currently works with Community-wide Children’s Health Assessment Survey data as an intern at the Community Health Research Department of Cook Children’s Health Care System.

“I hope to help alleviate some of the environmental-related health challenges kids suffer through my research efforts as an epidemiologist with sound biostatistics skills,” he said.

Obinwa says he hopes to someday start an organization where he can partner with governmental health agencies to organize intervention programs targeted at malaria and other parasitic diseases in Nigeria and other developing countries.

“This scholarship is indeed an encouragement and a great boost to my dreams,” he said.

Posted Date: August 12, 2015

Students seeking a Master of Public Health degree in Health Management and Policy are now able to complete the program entirely online through the UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health.

This degree helps prepare students for careers in policy development, policy analysis and health systems management.

Course topics include health systems, health economics and finance, health insurance and managed care, health law and ethics, private and public sector management, and state and national health policy.

“As more and more students look for the convenience and flexibility of online learning options, the UNTHSC School of Public Health continues to explore different ways to meet their needs,” said Thad Miller, MPH, DrPH, Acting Chair, Health Management and Policy. “This new opportunity gives students another path for completing their degree.”

Posted Date: August 5, 2015

A new Advisory Council will begin working with the UNTHSC School of Public Health this fall, to help shape the structure and direction of the school’s Master of Public Health and Doctor of Public Health programs.

The Council is comprised of alumni and other professionals who are leaders in public health, health care, business and community, with a commitment to the education and preparedness of the next generation of public health leaders.

This new group is modeled after the successful MHA Advisory Council for the SPH Master of Health Administration program and will meet two to three times each year.

“We are pleased to welcome these new members, their guidance, experience, ideas and energy,” said Dean Richard S. Kurz, PhD. “The addition of this new Council is a great benefit for both the SPH and our students.”

New Council members are:

  • (Advisory Council Chair) Matt Richardson, MPH, DrPH, Director, Denton County Health Department
  • Allen Applegate, Lieutenant, United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Quarantine Public Health Officer, CDC San Francisco
  • Elizabeth Sobel Blum, Senior Community Development Research Associate, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
  • James Dickens, Office of Minority Health, Health and Human Services (HHS), Region 6, Dallas
  • Greg Eastin, Strategic Planning, Parkland Health System
  • Susan Garnett, President and CEO, Mental Health and Mental Retardation of Tarrant County
  • Angela Girgenti, Office of Women’s Health, HHS, Region 6, Dallas
  • Anita Kurian, MMBS, DrPH, Associate Director, Tarrant County Public Health
  • Shirley Little, MA, CEO, The Martin Group
  • Aisling McGuckin, RN, MSN, MPH, Director of Program Services, March of Dimes Foundation, Dallas
  • Camille Miller, MSS, President and CEO, Texas Health Institute, Austin
  • Patrick Moonan, DrPH, Epidemiologist, CDC Surveillance, Epidemiology and Outbreak Investigation Branch – Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, Atlanta
  • Tricia Nguyen, MD, Executive Vice President, Population Health, Education and Innovation Center, Texas Health Resources
  • Tony Shuman, President & CEO, YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth
  • Don Smith, Vice President for Community Development, United Way of Tarrant County/Director, Area Agency on Aging
  • Verrinder (Vinny) Taneja, MBBS, MPH, Director, Tarrant County Public Health
  • Patsy Thomas, President, Mental Health Connection
  • Larry Tubb, Senior Vice President, System Planning, Cook Children’s Medical Center
  • Libby Watson, Strategic Collaboration, LLC
  • Stephen Williams, MPA, MEd, Director, Houston Department of Health and Human Services
  • James Zoretic, MD, MPH, Assistant Commissioner for Regional and Local Health Services, Region 2/3, Texas Department of State Health Services

The Council’s first meeting will be held August 26.

Posted Date: June 19, 2015

Three Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences MPH students in the UNTHSC School of Public Health have recently received national scholarship awards.

Kikelomo  (Kike) Akintunde and Emanehi (Ema) Iyioriobhe were invited to attend the recent American Industrial Hygiene Association’s AIHce2015 Conference in Salt Lake City, where Kike received a $4,000 scholarship from the American Industrial Hygiene Foundation and Ema was presented a $2,000 scholarship from the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

Student Obioma Ilouga was also recently awarded a $5,000 Workcare Safety and Health Scholarship from the American Society of Safety Engineers.

Posted Date: June 19, 2015


School of Public Health (SPH) adjunct instructor Melissa Oden has found a unique way to bring real-world perspectives to her students’ work in the Maternal and Child Health MPH degree program.

As students wrapped up the spring semester in Dr. Oden’s Human Sexuality and Health class in May, they shared their final presentations with community judges representing non-profit, health care, educational and other related organizations. Judges helped evaluate and recommend grades based on the ideas presented, professionalism, research and impact of the projects.

Ten presentations were made, covering such topics as:

  • Prevalence and risks of “sexting,” and its relation to other high-risk sexual behaviors
  • Effects of body image on sexual health among adolescents
  • A new idea to help locate and rescue international sex trafficking victims
  • Breaking the cycle of intergenerational teen pregnancy
  • Sex trafficking among minors in the United States
  • Revenge porn: weaponizing sex in digital form
  • The effects of clothing choices on stereotyping in the professional environment
  • Sexual health of youth in foster care
  • Sexuality education for the younger ages
  • The physical and mental implications of why people have sex: a modern look at a complex topic

Business entrepreneur Sue Wallace, one of the judge panelists, said she was “fascinated to hear the students’ views on several difficult topics regarding human sexuality.”

“I was impressed by their brilliant minds in addressing these tough subjects,” Ms. Wallace noted. “I applaud Dr. Oden for helping to open their thought processes and assist and challenge them to ‘think outside the box’ when addressing these critical issues that face our societies today.”

Jorge Urby from Parkland Health and Hospital System, Dallas, stressed the importance of this class “because it exposes students to a topic that many people find taboo but that needs to be discussed and understood better.”

“Giving presentations in front of a panel of professionals is a great learning experience for students,” Urby noted, “especially since they will be doing more of that as they continue with their career trajectory.”

Other judge participants were educational consultant Dr. Calvin Lawrence; Dr. Matthew Weaver, formerly with United Way of Tarrant County; and Ms. Dina Davis, former Vice President of Program Development with Girls Inc. of Tarrant County.

In addition to serving as an adjunct instructor in the SPH Department of Behavioral and Community Health, Dr. Oden is the school’s Public Health Practice Experience Liaison.

Posted Date: June 16, 2015

Research_Schmooze_1The UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health and Texas Prevention Institute took their third “Research Schmooze” out to the community when they recently partnered with the Cook Children’s Center for Children’s Health for anetworking event at Pappasito’s Mexican restaurant.

The purpose was to network on topics impacting early childhood development, mental health, obesity/healthy lifestyle, oncology and environmental exposures on children’s asthma.

Thirty-two participants joined in table-topic discussions, generating ideas for joint projects and research collaborations.

According to Center for Children’s Health Senior Vice President Larry Tubb, “The Research Schmooze was a great opportunity for bringing UNTHSC together with Cook Children’s, to address some of the highest-priority children’s health issues in our community today. The Center’s goal is to create collaborations that will allow us to make North Texas one of the healthiest places to raise a child, and partnerships with organizations like UNTHSC are key to helping reach that goal.”

With data collected and analyzed by UNTHSC research teams, the Cook Children’s Health Care System presented Community-wide Children’s Health Assessment & Planning Surveys (CCHAPS) in 2008 and 2012 to identify specific health issues affecting children in the local six-county area. Counties studied were Tarrant, Wise, Parker, Johnson, Hood and Denton. A “Share One Thing” online discussion board was also developed, inviting community members to join in and offer their own ideas for improving children’s health.

“After two successful, internal Schmooze events that brought our own faculty and researchers together, it seemed like a natural next step to move out into the community to explore important local issues with partners like Cook Children’s,” said UNTHSC Research Manager Robyn Remotigue, CRA.

Posted Date: May 29, 2015

Eight Master of Health Administration (MHA) students shared their summer internship experiences with faculty, staff and fellow students at a recent debriefing at the UNTHSC School of Public Health. Students shared details of their projects and assignments, lessons learned and the value gained. The opportunities helped students sharpen their skills in research, reporting, analysis, project management, leadership, professionalism and presentation, communication and other specialized areas.

According to Dr. Elizabeth Trevino-Dawson, who served as this summer’s MHA internship advisor, the program allowed students to “fully engage” in the organizations they worked with, taking on large-scale assignments, managing real-world responsibilities, finding their own answers to business challenges and contributing to their organization’s overall team.  The internships also provide networking opportunities and often lead to full-time positions with the companies.

Pictured from left to right (back row) are Garrett Boland, who presented his experiences on LoopBack Analytics;Kent Palmore and Matthew Stabe, who discussed their experiences with Baylor Health Care System – Office of Patient Centeredness; and (front row) Shilpa Chhadwa, who interned with Genesis Physician Group; Karyssa Bowers, who shared her experiences with Pioneer ACO-North Texas Specialty Physicians; Alexis Hunter, who interned with Baylor Family Medical Center-Waxahachie; and SriLakshmi Gummadi, who interned with North Texas Area Community Health Center, Inc. Chelsea Hart, who interned with Texas Health Resources Southwest Hospital, also shared her experiences via online video.

Posted Date: May 26, 2015
With grant funding from pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Boehringer Ingleheim, the SPH, UNTHSC’s Office of Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) and the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) will cooperatively pilot a new children’s asthma management program in two East Fort Worth schools this fall. Working with the school-based clinics at Eastern Hills Elementary and Forest Oak Middle School, the program aims to improve the way children’s asthma is managed both in school and at home.
According to David Sterling, PhD, SPH professor and chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, asthma is the most common chronic childhood illness and most prevalent cause of childhood disability. Of Tarrant County children ages 0‐14, approximately 75,500 have asthma. By age nine, Sterling notes, 25% of the county’s children have been diagnosed with asthma, with a disproportionate number of cases occurring among the county’s African American children.
“Asthma is a growing national problem, contributing to more than 14 million lost school days a year across the U.S.,” Sterling says.  “It’s been well documented that children with asthma are absent more often, and excessive school absences are a strong predictor of disrupted learning and premature dropout rates.”
Locally in our community, the problem was brought to light when a Cook Children’s Health Care 2009 Community‐wide Children’s Health Assessment & Planning Survey (CCHAPS) identified elevated asthma prevalence of approximately 18.59 percent in Tarrant County, a rate double the national average of 9 percent and significantly greater than Texas’ average of 8.8 percent.
This new initiative will focus on educating school-based healthcare providers, teachers and community-based primary care clinicians, as well as young patients, their parents and caregivers. Children will learn to manage their asthma at home and in school, to ultimately reduce school absences, asthma-related 911 calls from schools and resulting emergency visits, school clinic visits, and hospital admissions or readmissions.
It is hoped that this fall’s pilot will be used to launch a self-sustaining program that can be rolled out district‐wide across the FWISD and replicated in other communities in the future.


Posted Date: May 13, 2015

Milam_Moore_sons_178x300Congratulations to Erin Milam-Moore, Senior Administrative Associate in the School of Public Health, for earning Rookie of the Year honors in the 2015 Fort Worth Admin Awards, sponsored by Core24. The honor recognizes those new to the profession who have the greatest potential to succeed.

Milam-Moore re-entered the work force less than two years ago after rearing and homeschooling her children, wrote her nominator, Sharon Homan, PhD, Chairman and Professor, Biostatistics and Epidemiology.

“Her ability to juggle multiple tasks with competency, humor and kindness is phenomenal,” Homan said. “She attributes this to the ‘job training’ she received at home.”

Not only does Milam-Moore excel in people, administrative and technical skills, she also “demonstrates excellent informal leadership that builds culture and purpose, such as rallying us together for FitWorth challenges, baseball games, birthday celebrations, and welcoming and supporting our students,” Homan said.

“She is tenacious in learning the complicated and multiple systems for hiring, payroll approval, international visa processes, procurement, budget approvals, updating web information, and course evaluation system … and proactive in building UNTHSC’s values-driven culture focused on solutions!”

See the video honoring all UNTHSC finalists

The award was presented during a May 8 luncheon at the Worthington Renaissance Hotel, attended by Milam-Moore and UNTHSC’s other four finalists:

  • Gayanne Clemens—Achiever Award, given for successfully managing and completing a significant project that had a positive company-wide impact.
  • Ashlee Dickerson—Administrative Excellence in Healthcare Award, recognizes those who support organizations including health care providers, hospital systems, physician groups, pharmaceutical companies and medical device suppliers and vendors.
  • Essence Ragland—Above the Call Award, honors those who go above and beyond in delivering an exceptional first impression and who serve internal and external customers with professionalism, enthusiasm and care,.
  • Cheryell Williams-Price—Community Champion Award, given for demonstrating commitment to serving others in their community and working internally to inspire employee volunteerism, community service and good corporate citizenship.

Kudos to them all!