Dear Colleagues, Students, Staff, and Friends,
Welcome to the Rutgers School of Public Health! I am pleased and honored to be the new Dean of the School of Public Health. My move to New Jersey is a homecoming for me, after having been away for 32 years. I spent a few of my early years in New York City before moving to Pearl River, just across the border from northern Bergen County, and then returned to New York City to attend New York University for my undergraduate education. I now join my father, a Senior Administrator and long-time Professor and Chairman of the Department of Mathematics at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and my sister, an Associate Professor at Montclair State University, in supporting higher education in New Jersey. Our family is highly committed to the state, and to public higher education.
My interest in public health dates back to my undergraduate education and training. I was always interested in the non-traditional aspects of medicine and healthcare delivery, and I suspect this was informed to a great extent by my upbringing, i.e., my parents and my religion – Sikhism. My passion for this work continued through my residency and my first academic job at Emory University, which was based in downtown Atlanta at Grady Memorial Hospital and also at the Emory School of Public Health. It was here, working as a physician that I solidified my commitment – both clinically and in research – to improving the health of vulnerable populations. I also taught a graduate course, and collaborated with faculty, at the school of public health.
Over the course of my career, I have been able to advance knowledge in the fields of health equity and minority health. Specifically, in my research area of tobacco use and nicotine addiction, we now better understand the patterns of tobacco use and associated disproportionate risks in African American tobacco users. I look forward to continuing this primary research area, and also remaining engaged in global health efforts with two active research projects in Mumbai and New Delhi, India. My experience working with University of Minnesota’s Clinical and Translational Science Award program will contribute to our efforts in clinical research training and career development at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. In addition, I was also the founding director of the Center for Health Equity, an NIH-funded center – we have plans to pursue similar efforts here at our School.
The Rutgers School of Public Health has faculty and staff who are committed to excellence in teaching, research, and service activities. The School offers a number of quality and affordable academic degree programs, a strong research program addressing several areas in public health and an active service program that enables students to put their public health education into practice.
We have already been making plans to move the School from good to great. While my tenure as Dean officially began on May, I had been working with the School faculty and staff for several months to begin expanding and enhancing the School. We are recruiting additional faculty, setting the stage to begin offering daytime courses, adding infrastructure and staff, hiring a Director of Development to guide our philanthropic efforts, and beginning a reorganization of the School to better serve our students and stakeholders.
I humbly accept this opportunity and challenge from RBHS Chancellor Brian L. Strom, and look forward to working with him and his team to take the School to the next level…very soon! If the past four months are a marker of what we can achieve, the future looks very bright. Please join me in transforming the School to achieve its full potential in educating the best students, growing our faculty and staff, conducting cutting-edge research and scholarship, and making a difference in the health of communities—locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.
With warmest regards‚
Jasjit (Jas) S. Ahluwalia‚ MD, MPH, MS