(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — The Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health hosted faculty, staff, students and special guests from across the state Thursday to officially dedicate its new building, thank those instrumental in its creation and raise money for scholarships and student activities.

Ciro Sumaya, M.D., M.P.H.T.M., dean of the HSC-School of Rural Public Health, introduced the evening’s honored guests and presented awards to three current and former state legislators – Rep. Dianne White Delisi, R-Temple; Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan; and former Sen. Carlos Truan.

Representing the Texas A&M University System was Leo Sayavedra, Ph.D., vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, who opened the ceremonies.

“These (SRPH students) are the students that are going to be taking care of us,” Dr. Sayavedra said. “The School of Rural Public Health is providing medical services to people in 118 Texas counties.”

Nancy Dickey, M.D., president of the Health Science Center and vice chancellor for Health Affairs for the Texas A&M University System, thanked the trio of legislators for their work on sponsoring the legislation and providing funding to create the HSC-SRPH.

“We are blessed to be in a place where we not only have the opportunity to grow with all the speed their ideas will allow us, but also with the support of the Legislature to help make funding possible,” Dr. Dickey said.

Harrison Spencer, M.D., M.P.H., president and CEO of the Association of Schools of Public Health, praised the School’s rapid growth and its full accreditation in the shortest amount of time of all U.S. schools of public health.

“We are here today to both dedicate a building and reflect a little bit on what the school has accomplished in a very short period of time,” Dr. Spencer said. “This is the only school of rural public health in the United States.”

Sponsor of the original legislation that formed the HSC-School of Rural Public Health, state Rep. Delisi recounted to students the story of Dr. John Snow, who traced an 1854 cholera epidemic in London to a water pump at Broad Street. In the first public health intervention, he removed the pump handle and prevented further deaths.

“I encourage you to use the model of Dr. Snow, with his logic and his determination, to make a contribution to the public’s health,” state Rep. Delisi said. “You have everything at your fingertips here at A&M. You are at the forefront. I congratulate you students with your interest in public health, and I remain an evangelist for your discipline.”

State Sen. Ogden thanked state Rep. Delisi for the sponsoring legislation and former state Sen. Truan for championing the Health Science Center and Texas A&M.

“The greatest strength that the Texas A&M University System has, vis-à-vis other institutions in the state, is the tendency of its students and of its friends to volunteer, to give back their time, their talent and their treasure on behalf of this institution,” state Sen. Ogden said. “It is one of the greatest assets that this institution has.”

Former state Sen. Truan was recognized for his work as Dean of the Senate and contributions to the SRPH External Advisory Board.

“There is no limit to the ideas that need to be converted to legislation, and I want to ask each and every one of you to think, with your education and background, to consider your contributions to your legislators – here or back home – on how can we improve the quality of life for all of our citizens,” former state Sen. Truan said.

Founded in 1998 and initially housed in space off-campus, the HSC-School of Rural Public Health is committed to improving the health of communities — with an emphasis on rural and underserved populations — through education, research, service, outreach and creative partnerships. The School offers three masters and two doctoral degree programs for students, and a ribbon-cutting for the new complex occurred Feb. 15.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its five components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology and the School of Rural Public Health.

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