Dr. Paul Farmer to give keynote address at 2017 Public Health Commencement

May 10, 2017

Dr. Paul FarmerMedical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer will deliver the keynote address at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health’s Commencement ceremony on May 15, 2017, in the Hearst Greek Theatre.Dr. Paul Farmer has dedicated his life to improving health care for the world's poorest people. He is co-founder and chief strategist of Partners In Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization that since 1987 has provided direct health care services and undertaken research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. Dr. Farmer and his colleagues in the United States and abroad have pioneered novel community-based treatment strategies that demonstrate the delivery of high-quality health care in resource-poor settings.

Dr. Farmer holds an MD and PhD from Harvard University, where he is the Kolokotrones University Professor and the Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Additionally, Dr. Farmer serves as the United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community Based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti. Dr. Farmer was honored with the School’s Public Health Hero Award in 2009.

2017 Awards and Honors

Martha Ryan

The 2017 Alumna of the Year award—the highest honor the School bestows on its alumni—will be presented to Martha Ryan RN, MPH ’89. Martha Ryan founded the Homeless Prenatal Program (HPP) in 1989, a nationally recognized model for service delivery, to provide prenatal care to at-risk pregnant women. Martha Ryan’s journey to creating HPP began in the early ’80s. After a 10-year stint as an ICU nurse at San Francisco General Hospital, Ryan returned Africa, where she had been a teacher for the Peace Corps years before. In Somalia and the Sudan, Ryan worked in refugee camps where she created a Community Health Outreach Program, a program she would later replicate at HPP. In the first year at HPP, Ryan provided prenatal care to 72 women. Twenty-two years later, HPP is a family resource center with an 80+ person staff (more than half of whom are former clients) that serves 4,000 families annually.

“Martha is a visionary,” says Clinical Professor Cheri Pies, who nominated Ryan for this award. “She sees a need, she recognizes where change needs to happen, mobilizes the right people to create the synergy for that change to be achieved, and does it all with a passion, poise, commitment, and approach that is inclusive, expansive, and innovative.”

Jeff OxendineEach year, alumni nominate a faculty member to receive the Zak Sabry Mentorship Award for mentoring students and encouraging creative faculty-student collaborations. This year the honor goes to Associate Dean of Public Health Practice Jeff Oxendine, who serves as executive director of the Center for Public Health Practice & Leadership and co-faculty director of the Undergraduate Public Health Program. Oxendine has been a health executive, educator, and consultant for more than 30 years. His passion is empowering students to discover and achieve their health career dreams and become the next generation of diverse health leaders and professionals. He has done this at UC Berkeley for 14 years and for 26 years as Founder and President of Health Career Connection (HCC), a non-profit that empowers undergraduate students throughout California, New York, New England, North Carolina, and Washington D.C.

“Jeff Oxendine is committed to increasing exposure, experience, mentorship, and networking opportunities for students,” says Public Health Alumni Association President Sheila Baxter MPH ’10, who nominated Oxendine for the award. “He does all he can to support students individually and also partners with students, staff, alumni, and faculty on building these types of opportunities.”

In addition, the funds raised by the 2017 Class Campaign will be announced at Commencement. The graduating class hopes to raise $10,000 in gifts in order to thank the School and enhance the educational experience for future students. The money raised this year will be used to provide stipends for public health students to help support them during their summer internships.

If you would like to attend the School of Public Health Commencement, you may purchase tickets in person (Zellerbach Hall Ticket Office), by phone (510-642-9988), or online. Please keep in mind that every guest must have a ticket and there are no exceptions.