George Mason University
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George Mason University

A Message to Alumni from Germaine Louis, Ph.D., M.S., Dean of the College of Health and Human Services

March 23, 2020

Dear Alumni,

As Mason’s community of alumni, students, faculty, and staff learn to live in the “new normal” created by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am writing to express hope that you are doing well and to update you on the measures the College of Health and Human Services community is taking to care for those in need and help flatten the curve.

As the world combats this pandemic, I believe it’s also increasingly important to put a spotlight on the (often hidden) work of public health and the importance of the public’s health infrastructure that underlies us all – thanks, in part, to the work of College alumni like you.

Our Mason and Partner Clinics remain a resource to the community during this tumultuous time, expanding their telehealth capabilities and providing screening for COVID-19 at some locations. Students in this College continually inspire me with their resolve and creativity in the face of adversity—including our social work students who founded and manage a burgeoning Facebook Group of nearly 10,000 members dedicated to helping people in Northern Virginia find necessary supplies.    

More than 1,400 students will continue to serve in internships and clinicals--in many instances directly addressing the current pandemic. Thank you to those alumni who act as preceptors and provide field placement opportunities to a fellow Patriot.

Our research faculty have also been on the frontlines in educating the public on the current pandemic—a role they have played in previous infectious disease outbreaks. Dr. Amira Roess, professor in the Department of Global and Community Health (GCH) studies how strains of the MERS-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) spread among humans and animals.  By understanding disease emergence, Roess’ research—and the work of an army of academics and practitioners—helps inform public health responses and future best practices.  Dr. Kathryn Jacobsen, also a GCH professor, studies the emergence of diseases like SARS, Zika and Ebola and how information and misinformation spread during emerging infectious disease events.

These are just a few examples of the public health workforce at the College and beyond. Our ranks are filled with alumni, faculty, staff, and students who are in the trenches at this moment tackling COVID-19, working behind the scenes advocating for health policy changes, or even fighting the next public health emergency before it happens.

This week, we have transitioned more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students to virtual learning. This is a massive undertaking on the part of faculty and students—and the entire College is committed to the success of our students. Even in “normal” circumstances, many of our students require assistance with basic items such as internet access, housing, and food--and these needs are made worse by the current pandemic. To help students in need, we have initiated a Student Emergency Assistance Fund to ensure that every student can continue with their studies at Mason. Please consider giving to support a student, if you can.

Please stay in touch and let us know how you are doing in these unprecedented times—and how you are bringing the skills and experience you gained at Mason to meet the unique challenges we face today.

With gratitude and wishes for good health,

Germaine Louis, Ph.D., M.S.  
Dean and Professor  
College of Health and Human Services  
George Mason University


Related people: Germaine Louis, PhD, MS
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