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To highlight the value of combined efforts between public health and social work in supporting the people of Hawaiʻi, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work is pleased to announce the change of its name to the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health. Since 2016, the Office of Public Health Studies has been part of the school of social work. The renaming provides an enhanced opportunity to embrace its vision of achieving social justice and health equity for the people of Hawaiʻi and citizens in a changing world.

Most critically, the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health is training the future workforce of epidemiologists, social workers, gerontologists and other public health experts to help prevent and mitigate the effects of any future pandemics in our community. This effort is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success, one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan, updated in December 2020.

“The efforts of social work and public health professionals improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities,” said William Chismar, interim dean for the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health. “Through its educational and research programs, the Thompson School trains and supports these professionals and public policy makers.”

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thompson school of social work and public health

The renaming reflects the major units within the school and highlights the interdisciplinary strength as one school.

“Renaming the school to the Thompson school will provide a revitalized opportunity to share the legacy of Myron B. Thompson and his significant contributions to the all the communities of Hawaiʻi, and to inspire future generations of social workers and public health professionals,” said Jing Guo, chair of the Department of Social Work.

Social work and public health are responding in a holistic fashion to address the physical and social determinants of health and well-being, while honoring the people and communities that they serve.

“Solutions to address the root causes of the pandemic and its collateral effects, and to build community well-being now and for the future, will come from the unique and shared perspectives of public health and social work,” said Tetine Sentell, director of the Office of Public Health Studies. “The name change to the Thompson school makes the role of public health in this critical synergy more visible.”

During a time of multiple and interpenetrating crises of health and social welfare, the interdisciplinary alliance and professional leadership to advance social reform and public health are more urgent than ever. Social work and public health are essential to the workforce responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the long-term recovery from economic disruptions and drastic effects on people in Hawaiʻi, the nation and the global community.

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