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UA Part of $6M research of American Indian Health

Public health researchers at the University of Arizona, along with researchers at two other higher education institutions in the state, have earned a $6 million grant to investigate health issues in American Indian communities.

The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities awarded the five-year grant to a statewide team of researchers from the UA, Northern Arizona University and Diné College to establish the Center for American Indian Resilience, also known as CAIR.

The collaborative team will study why some American Indian communities facing high rates of chronic disease and poverty seem to thrive despite adversity.

“The basic practice of public health is about understanding ways to support healthy behaviors, and we know programs that are culturally relevant are more effective,” said Nicolette Teufel-Shone, professor of health promotion sciences at the UA’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

“We will take a look at existing health behaviors and programs that target the prevention of chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, to determine what is working and why,” Teufel-Shone said.

Teufel-Shone and Priscilla Sanderson, assistant professor of health sciences and applied indigenous studies at NAU, have been named CAIR’s co-directors. Diné College faculty on the project are Mark Bauer and Donald Robinson, both of the department of science education.
The UA public health college received $2 million of the CAIR grant, which includes collaborations with tribal communities and research projects.

“CAIR research will deepen our scientific knowledge of existing positive health outcomes in tribal communities, and then we will translate this knowledge to practice through public health education and policy,” said Sanderson, a member of the Navajo Nation.

Also under the grant, the UA public health college will collaborate with NAU and Diné College to support Diné College’s ongoing summer program to teach undergraduate students to consider and incorporate community strengths in their work as emerging public health professionals. The program combines classroom learning with hands-on experience through an internship in tribal communities.

The research project, directed by the UA, also involves a partnership with the Tucson Indian Center to interview elders about their concept of resilience and their perceptions of key factors that contribute to success in life.

Through this initiative, members of the Southwestern American Indian community will record video diaries to share their experiences of well-being.

“The goal of the video diaries project is to use existing information about which factors contribute to Native American resilience and spread this knowledge to other Native American communities,” Teufel-Shone said. “This way, researchers can learn lessons of how resilience is already effective in these communities, share experiences and allow community members to create new paths based on other people’s stories.”

Other UA College of Public Health participants include John Ehiri, director and professor; Division of Health Promotion Sciences; Agnes Attakai, director, Health Disparities Outreach and Prevention Education; Kerstin Reinschmidt, assistant professor, Health Promotion Sciences; and Rebecca Drummond, program director for Family Wellness.

NAU faculty and staff contributing to CAIR include Olivia Trujillo, professor of applied indigenous studies; Robert Trotter, Regents’ professor and chair of anthropology; Chad Hamill, assistant professor of music; Roger Bounds, associate professor and chair of health sciences; Lisa Hardy, assistant professor of anthropology; R. Cruz Begay, professor of health sciences; and Kelly Laurila, coordinator in anthropology. Paul Dutton, director of NAU’s Interdisciplinary Health Policy Institute, will facilitate the executive advisory board.

Diné College faculty on the project are Mark Bauer, PhD and Donald Robinson, PhD of the Department of Science Education.

William Pepicello, President, University of Phoenix - AZ Business Magazine June 2010

First Job: William Pepicello, President, University of Phoenix

William Pepicello, Ph.D.
President, University of Phoenix

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
My first job was reading gas meters in Erie, Penn., as summer employment. I learned the importance of being on time and that the work had to be done regardless of the weather or other harsh conditions, which included crawling around grungy basements, avoiding aggressive dogs, and in one case a small riot.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first job in higher education was as an assistant professor of English at the University of Delaware, teaching freshman English. This job taught me that I really could have a positive effect on students’ lives. I also learned the value of connecting with students. Even in classes of 100, I made it a point to learn each student’s name and to talk to them when I saw them on campus. I have on occasion over the years run into one of these students, and surprisingly I still remember their names — and they mine.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
I read gas meters at about $5 an hour, and my first teaching job garnered the princely sum of $12,000 a year.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
My most significant mentor was Dr. George Johnson, the dean of arts and sciences at Temple University, where I taught in the ’80s. He taught me that being good was not good enough. He saw my ambition and helped me learn to think out of the box. Most importantly, he taught me that I should follow my passion, and that if I did this and was open to change, I would find success.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
The same advice that Dr. Johnson gave me many years ago. Higher education is in a period of significant change in America, and it is not an easy path to follow. But it is a very satisfying and vital profession. This is truly a time to focus on one’s passion for education and follow the path that presents itself. It has led me from being a professor of English and classical languages to my current job (who’d have thought?). And there is not a day that I don’t wake up energized and eager to get to work. Every day is an exciting new adventure.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I would still want a career that keeps me connected and that ties to one of my passions. I have over the years done lots of radio and TV spots, as well as writing the occasional newspaper column. So, getting out of the box, I’d really love to do a morning drive-time talk show, probably sports talk. I even have the name: Pep Talk. So far Doug and Wolf aren’t biting though, and Phoenix has a great complement of sports broadcasters. But a guy has to dream …

Arizona Business Magazine June 2010