Alumni at the helm

An education from Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine can take you from the classroom to almost anywhere around the world. Sometimes, it brings you back to the classroom. And sometimes, you end up not only leading the class, but leading the school.

Antoinette Kitoto Tshefu

Take ANTOINETTE KITOTO TSHEFU. She earned both her MPH&TM and PhD degrees from SPHTM and now is helping students in the Democratic Republic of the Congo do the same in her role as dean of the Kinshasa School of Public Health.

Then there’s PASCAL IMPERATO (TM MPH ’66). When Imperato was looking for a place to study tropical medicine, he told the Tulane admissions personnel that since he had trained in internal medicine, he wasn’t interested in public health. “They said, well, when you come here, you are going to find that the two are inextricably related to one another,” he recalls. The decision to train in tropical medicine at Tulane altered his professional trajectory permanently.

Pascal Imperato

After Tulane, he cut his teeth in international health on small pox eradication programs in West Africa. From West Africa and the CDC he went to the New York Department of Public Health, where he continued to draw upon the knowledge and expertise of colleagues at Tulane and in the public health programs of the City of New Orleans.

Meanwhile, he pursued his own vision of a public health program at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, where he is now dean of the School of Public Health. “It is the first school of its kind in Downstate and the first publicly supported school of public health in New York City.” The school, an hour-and-a-half trip from Manhattan, has been positioned to be more accessible to professionals and students in Brooklyn.

RANDY WYKOFF (TM MPH&TM ’81) is the founding dean of the first school of public health in Tennessee, at the East Tennessee State University.

Randy Wykoff

“What I liked about Tulane was both its global focus and its applied skills,” recalls Wykoff, who has four degrees from Tulane University including his 1981 MPH&TM. “I never felt that I was learning things solely because it was relevant to academia. I very much try to bring that perspective to ETSU.”

“We are training our students to enter the workforce and make a difference in the lives of other people. What I liked about Tulane was this practical, applied, boots-on-the-ground kind of mentality,” he says. In addition to cutting edge public health techniques, Wykoff also insists that students learn about the history of public health. “I love this job,” he says. “I worked in the workforce, not academia, my whole career. To be able to be here and be guiding students to become effective public health workers is amazing.”

Elizabeth Fontham

ELIZABETH FONTHAM (EPI MPH ’78, DrPH ’83) is the founding dean of the LSU School of Public Health. She relishes the opportunities where Tulane and LSU can work together, including the consortia studying aspects of the Gulf oil spill and the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium. “Louisiana ranks at the bottom nationally on almost every health indicator and has ranked poorly for years,” she notes. “The opportunity to work together to increase the critical mass of trained public health practitioners in the state of Louisiana is a real asset.”

SPHTM offers students a broad education that brings the world into the classroom. For these alumni, their career paths ultimately took them back to school, to leadership positions that help them carry on the goal of changing the world through education.

Alumni at the Helm

Other alumni who have gone on to the top spot at schools and universities:

  • Cyril Blavo (TM MPH&TM ’88), Director, Public Health Program, Nova Southeastern University
  • Wayne Riley (HSM MPH ’88), President, Meharry Medical College (Master of Science in Public Health Program)
  • Ciro Sumaya (TM MPH ’73), Professor,Texas A&M Rural School of Public Health (Founding Dean)

About Tulane University SPHTM

Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine is the oldest school of public health in the country and the only American school of tropical medicine. Our mission is to advance public health knowledge, promote health and well-being, and prevent disease, disability, and premature mortality. This is accomplished through academic excellence in education of public health professionals, rigorous scientific research of public health problems, creative partnerships to advance the practice of public health, and innovative service to the local, national, and international public health community.
This entry was posted in Fall/Winter 2012 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Alumni at the helm

  1. Thanks for the comment.

    The focus of this particular alumni article is alumni who are school leaders.

    We will likely do an article on alumni who have become public leaders in the future.

  2. Barnett Cline says:

    You should include Dr. Tom Farley, Director of New York City Health Department. He graduated with MD and MPH&TM degrees via the combined degree program with the School of Medicine.

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