Navigating a path forward, together

Dean Hilary Godwin Portrait
Dean Hilary Godwin (Photo Credit: Elizar Mercado)

Nearly three years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we find ourselves at another crossroads. We are still grappling with COVID-19 and the legacies of structural racism and also need to turn our attention both to the health impacts of climate change and to ensuring that hard-won policy gains and legal rights to reproductive health services are not eroded. How do we chart a path forward?

At the University of Washington School of Public Health, these past three years have taught us valuable lessons in how we can support public health amidst the most challenging of circumstances. The solutions may lie in our partnerships with each other.


We learned from our partners at the Somali Health Board (see cover story) on the importance of constant communication with communities to understand their needs, pivot quickly and provide appropriate resources during times of crisis. In our School, we created new instructional teaching assistant positions to help faculty navigate the complexities of in-person and online teaching, including hybrid modalities. On the research front, we have taken note of the pervasive inadequacies of public health data systems and are investing in our own IT systems so our researchers can achieve maximal impact. 


To do the important work of public health, we need to bring our best selves. Doing this is HARD — it requires intentionality and community. At UW SPH, we’ve invested in a mental health specialist who supports students with direct services and trains our faculty on how to facilitate mental health check ins with students during challenging times (read mental health story). We’ve also created an “access and advocacy coordinator” role to help students navigate the various resources available to them. 


The ability to imagine a light at the end of a very long tunnel — even when we can’t see it — is core to what makes us human. Public health work is essential, and we do this work knowing that collectively, we make a difference in people’s lives. As you read the stories of impact in this issue of the UW School of Public Health magazine, I hope the work that our students, staff, alumni and faculty are doing brings you joy. These are stories of people who have persevered during difficult times, have supported each other, and have brought light into the lives of others. 

I am grateful to every one of you for the work that you do and the positive changes that you are creating to build a world of healthy people. Stay strong and be well.

Hilary Godwin
Dean, UW School of Public Health


Hilary Godwin signature

Hilary Godwin
Dean, UW School of Public Health