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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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New public health chief to expand programs and campus involvement

By Lana Groves, Asst. News Editor

Stephen Alder has watched for seven years as the former public health division chief promoted healthy living and addressed health issues at the U and in the state. Now it’s his turn to take the reins.

Faculty within the family and preventive medicine department recently gave their support of Department Chair Michael Magill’s decision to appoint Alder to the position.

Alder, an assistant professor of family and preventive medicine, started in the position Aug. 1 and feels excited to implement his plans to maintain and improve the public health division on campus.

“I’ve seen the personal investments former directors have had to make to move the program forward,” he said. “We’re at a time where, in order to meet the needs of the state of Utah and the Intermountain Region, (we need) to add more faculty, engage in the academic aspect of public health and engage in research.”

Alder said this year he’ll be looking at the top priorities and prescribing what will address those concerns.

The department’s main areas of focus are education, scholarship and service, which Magill said are key areas in which Alder has demonstrated leadership abilities.

“He has a track record of success in all three areas (and) is a significant leader of the Global Health Initiative,” Magill said.

The Global Health Initiative connects with communities around the world to better learn how to serve varying communities with different health concerns.

The initiative, which Alder directs, has a continued project in Ghana to educate members of the community through a health promotion program. Alder also helped organize a program through the Global Health Initiative to serve the medical needs of American Indians in Utah.

“He’s also a leader in our community and medical practice, (and) he’s had a major role in the redesign of the curriculum for our public health programs,” Magill said.

Alder replaced former director Peter Catinella when he resigned from the position to work in Arizona.

The new division chief plans to maintain Catinella’s work, as well as integrate the public health division with other departments and colleges on campus.

“We’re tying in with the Honors College to do more at the undergraduate level,” he said.

Karen Schliep, a student in the public health doctorate program, took Alder’s class on biostatistics when she was completing her graduate degree. She said she believes Alder is a great person to fill the division chief position.

“He’s always taken an interest in students,” she said. “(It) seems like a very natural position for him.”

Schliep said Alder wasn’t her personal adviser, but took an interest in her studies and work, as well as other students in the class.

“(Alder) is a very engaging, very dynamic speaker,” she said. “(His statistics class) was the first time (the subject) made sense.”

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