Obama & CDC's Frieden: UM '10

Obama & CDC's Frieden: UM '10

Being There: May 1, 2010

SPH Associate Professor Richard Lichtenstein took the above left photo during the University of Michigan spring commencement ceremonies at Michigan Stadium. As faculty representative for SPH, Lichtenstein sat on the podium with UM leaders, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, and U.S. President Barack Obama, who gave the 2010 commencement address. "I felt like I had to keep pinching myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I was sitting 15 feet from the president!" Lichtenstein says of the experience. "I couldn't stop smiling. Everybody who saw me said I had a big grin on my face the whole time." Most of the rest of the nearly 90,000 people in the stadium that day had a more conventional view of the nation's 44th president—and of the sixth UM SPH dean, Kenneth Warner, who sat directly behind Obama.

On the Job and at UM SPH: CDC Director Thomas Frieden

In town on April 29 to give the 2010 SPH commencement address, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and former commissioner of the New York City Health Department talked about his priorities, his hopes for the future, and his visit to SPH:

Findings: What are your top priorities these days?

Frieden: A leading priority moving forward will be health reform implementation, and how public health can best support efforts to increase coverage, reduce costs, and increase the health value we get for our health care expenditures. Preparedness is an ongoing concern. It's also imperative that we implement prevention throughout our entire system—tobacco control, improved nutrition, food safety, HIV prevention, and preventing hospital-associated infections are among our top priorities.

What was the highlight of your visit to SPH?

It was very special to be here with Dean Ken Warner [at right above, with Frieden on graduation day] to help celebrate his final graduation as head of the school. He is a wonderful leader, a rigorous scientist, an effective advocate, and a good mentor.

Twenty-five years from now, what achievements would you most like to see from the SPH class of 2010?

We need to figure out how to get more health value out of our health care expenditures. We also need to end racial and economic health inequalities. It's within our power to reverse the epidemics of tobacco use, obesity, physical inactivity, and harmful alcohol use. I hope to see this year's graduates at the forefront of these changes.

More info, photos, and video from UM and the White House on the President's 30-minute speech about civil democracy.