Kicking Off A 20-Day Virtual Celebration of Public Health

Oct. 19, 2020

The Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health marks its 20th anniversary with a special celebration for 20 days.


Twenty years ago, the first space crew arrived to live in the International Space Station, Bill Gates announced he was leaving his position as CEO of Microsoft, and the University of Arizona opened its newest college to bring all of its existing public health studies together in one place.

Today, the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health is an international leader in public health, educating students from undergraduate through doctoral studies, advancing science through research and making a difference in the state’s diverse communities. The college also emerged this year as a key contributor and leading voice in the University of Arizona Health Sciences’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To commemorate its remarkable history, the college is looking back on two decades of accomplishments in a unique virtual 20-day celebration.

The festivities begin with a live launch event Oct. 19 at 5:30 p.m., register to attend via Zoom.

Reflections and accomplishments

Iman Hakim, MD, PhD, MPH

Iman Hakim, MD, PhD, MPH

This milestone provides a chance for Dean Iman Hakim, MD, PhD, MPH, who has been with the college since its establishment, to reflect and celebrate.

“Today we stand as a recognized leader in public health. We have grown the college into an ecosystem of centers and programs, research and education, promotion and outreach that has improved health and wellness for millions of people,” said Dr. Hakim.

The confluence of a public health emergency with the anniversary has prompted a new external awareness of the college and its work, she said.

“Because of the pandemic, this is also the year that everyone around the world suddenly understands the vital importance of public health, the importance of science, the importance of data-based decision making, prevention protocols and contact tracing,” Dr. Hakim said. “Today, public health is more visible and more important than ever.”

The college’s work has always been an important part of fostering a healthy society, but the pandemic has forced a more tangible societal understanding of the role of public health, she said.

“We are so proud of our faculty and our students who immediately took action to stop the spread of the virus, to implement their training and expertise, to support the health of our communities. Our faculty have delivered critical support to our regional and state health agencies, and to frontline health care providers – support guided by the best public health practices, guided by the science,” Dr. Hakim said.

Honoring founders and more

The virtual anniversary celebration commemorates a different aspect of the college’s history every day for 20 days, including videos, photos and stories about honorees who have helped build the college into what it is today.

Honorees include:

  • Zuckerman Family Foundation: a major financial supporter of the college and its work.
  • G. Marie Swanson, PhD, MPH: the founding dean of the college, guided early growth of the programs, professor emerita.
  • Richard Carmona, MD, MPH: alumnus, 17th Surgeon General of the United States, distinguished professor.
  • Carlos “Kent” Campbell, MD, MPH: one of the founders, recruited faculty and established curriculum.
  • Mark Smolinski, MD, MPH: alumnus, president of Ending Pandemics and medical epidemiologist.
  • Neelam Sethi: major donor, passionate about wellness, arts and children.
  • Frank Marcus, MD: major donor major donor, funds Childhood Obesity Prevention Initiative at Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion.
  • Arizona Complete Health: major donor, manages patient care for the state for AHCCCS, Medicare and other health services.

The “20 Days for 20 Years” celebration also will recognize important milestones, including the college’s work to improve and support rural and border health, establish a Global Health Institute, open a campus in Phoenix, partner with community organizations and incorporate equity, diversity and inclusion into its education, research and outreach efforts.

“Our public health expertise and education has had measurable benefits for our communities in the region, for the University of Arizona and Health Sciences, for the City of Tucson, for Pima County and for the State of Arizona. And our role is now more vital and visible than ever,” said Dr. Hakim.

Check the site daily through Nov. 7 to learn about and celebrate the college.