3 Reports on the AYA Assembly LXXV: Yale and Public Health in the 21st Century

3 Reports on the AYA Assembly LXXV: Yale and Public Health in the 21st Century

December 8, 2015 in Events, Notes

Dear Classmates, AYA Assembly LXXV was held in New Haven, November 19-21, 2015. This year’s topic was Yale and Public Health in the 21st Century. All four class officers attended. I include here reports from three of them. Bill Fowkes, Class of 1972 Corresponding Secretary.

Roger Rosenthal, Class of 1972 AYA Representative

Roger Rosenthal at AYA Assembly, November 2015. Photo by Bill Fowkes.

Roger Rosenthal at AYA Assembly, November 2015. Photo by Bill Fowkes.

Roger Rosenthal’s Report on the Yale Alumni Assembly held November 19 and 20, 2015 in New Haven. Roger is our Class AYA Representative. 

One hundred years ago, Yale added the Department of Public Health to its medical school. Selected to head this department was Charles-Edward Amory Winslow, a bacteriologist who was a leader in the new field of public health and who helped to shape the discipline in the United States. Yale’s Department of Public Health was one of the first in the nation. The Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) chose this hundredth anniversary for what is now the School of Public Health to establish the Alumni Assembly theme of “To {Y}our Health: Yale and Public Health in the 21st Century” for this, the 75th Assembly ever held.

The first day of the Assembly took place on the Medical School campus, a part of the Yale campus with which I was unfamiliar, but which I found very interesting. The Assembly started with welcomes and proceeded to two keynote speeches, one by Dr. Peter Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada, who spoke on “Solving Grand Challenges in Public Health” and Dr. Paul Cleary, Dean of the Yale School of Public Health, whose talk was entitled, “Innovation through Collaboration: Public Health at Yale.” The next part of the program was a fascinating set of presentations by Yale School of Public Health masters and doctoral students regarding their research and field activities. These brief presentations touched on the impact of marijuana legalization on public health, the development of a wearable necklace which contains immunization data for children currently used in India, and better management practices in health to improve the patient experience, among other topics.

In the afternoon, Assembly delegates chose from a variety of breakout “fireside chats.” I attended a session on the “Politics of Nutrition Policy” which focused on the issue of food company sponsorship of academic research and the potential influence of that sponsorship by such companies. This session was held at 60 College Street, the main building for the School of Public Health, a building designed by Philip Johnson. I next attended the breakout entitled “Being Well at Yale, and Beyond” held at the new and impressive Yale Health Center. That session focused on programs provided for employees and students in areas such as nutrition, weight management, cessation of tobacco use, and stress management.

Immediately after that breakout, your Class Officers met, joined by Connie Royster, to review briefly the success of the mini-reunion in October and to plan for future Class activities. The Class received extremely positive feedback regarding the mini-reunion event and we currently are considering holding another such event in about four years time. We also discussed the need to begin the planning of our 45th Reunion in the Spring of 2017. Finally, we discussed the current status of our Class Website (http://yale72.org/) and our Class Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Yale-University-Class-of-1972-268612096501158/). We want to encourage all classmates to sign up for the Website in order to be able to see a variety of articles and photos, post events in their lives, and interact with other class members. We also encourage interested Class members to sign up for our Facebook page.

That evening there was a Yale Medal Dinner Reception and the Yale Medal Dinner itself, where five Yale College alumni received recognition for their contributions to Yale. For a listing of the five recipients and their biographies, please go to http://news.yale.edu/2015/08/12/five-alumni-be-honored-annual-alumni-assembly-their-service-yale.

The next day was held back on the main Yale campus. The program started with an early morning session discussing campus climate and sexual misconduct. Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler and Assistant Dean Melanie Boyd conducted an eye opening presentation which focused largely on the results of the Association of American Universities (AAU) survey report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct and the Yale administration’s work in this area on campus. More information about this study and report of 27 institutions of higher education, including Yale, can be found at https://www.aau.edu/Climate-Survey.aspx?id=16525. The specific Yale results, which were part of this survey as reported by the University, are found at http://provost.yale.edu/title-ix/yale-report-aau-campus-climate-survey . Attendees found the prevalence of sexual assault and sexual misconduct on the Yale campus to be extremely disturbing.

Your Class officers then attended the workshop for Yale College Class Leadership. One of the panels for this session was about our recent mini-reunion for the Classes of 1971, 1972, and 1973, and the Class Secretaries for each of those classes, including our own Rob Bildner, outlined the planning for the event and its great success. Attendees at the workshop appeared very interested and impressed by what our three classes accomplished. One of the other presentations during this workshop was about the “Classmates on Call” support network established by the Class of 1963. This network provides support and referrals for classmates for a variety of health, financial, and legal issues. t provides an opportunity for classmates to talk to each other and also to take advantage of the expertise and experience of other classmates.

All the attendees of the various morning breakout sessions re-assembled in Battell Chapel to hear a Campus Community Update from President Salovey and Yale College Dean Holloway regarding recent campus events and the issues raised by students regarding what the University called “diversity and inclusion” at the College and University. Rather than characterize the President and Dean’s remarks on such important subjects, I refer any interested classmates to a series of videos which provide excerpts of their remarks and answers to alumni questions: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlAOLJLSY5DNvjb334YfaCDukVvegDLPQ

Prior to the presentation by the President and Dean, the AYA showed a brief video about alumni activities in 2015. Our mini-reunion was featured prominently in that video.

Following this very important session, we adjourned to Commons for an Assembly LXXV Lunch. We had arranged that the members of the three class mini-reunion Planning Committee who were in New Haven or were able to come to New Haven sit together at one big table. This group has become great friends and it was wonderful to be able to see each other again and enjoy each other’s company.

After lunch, there were more workshop sessions, this time regarding Alumni Programs. I attended a workshop regarding CLAY (Careers, Life, and Yale) a new program being developed to supplement services provided through the career services office (which is now called the Office of Career Strategy). This alumni program brings together alumni and students to help develop career plans and life skills. For more information about CLAY, go to http://careerslifeyale.org/ I also attended a workshop on Mentorship, which is a program only in the pilot stage right now, bringing together, in a one-on-one relationship over a period of time, an alum and a Yale student. A Yale Daily News article about this pilot program (you cannot sign up for it yet) is found at http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2015/10/14/aya-pilots-mentorship-program/

That evening your Class Officers had dinner together at a Class Officer function, joining Secretary of the Class of 1973 Andrea Darif.

On Saturday morning, the day of The Game, Class Secretary Rob Bildner and I hosted a Class of 1972 Table at the Alumni Village outside the Yale Bowl. Complimentary food, some Yale swag, and alumni camaraderie were in abundance at the Village. We were so very pleased to see a good number of classmates stop by the Class Table. Kickoff for The Game began at 2:30, and the game was “under the lights” due to its broadcast by NBC Sports Network. Sadly, as you know, the “other” team won and clinched a share of the Ivy Football title this year.

It was once again my great honor to represent our Class at the Assembly. Through this role, I have been able to meet more of you than just at our Reunion every five years, and this year it was a special and exciting privilege to help with the planning of the mini-reunion, where we saw many classmates, including some who have not attended regular five year reunions.



Rob Bildner, Class of 1972 Secretary

Rob Bildner, Class Secretary

Rob Bildner, Class Secretary

Rob Bildner’s Report on the Yale Alumni Assembly held November 19 and 20, 2015 in New Haven.

Dear Classmates:

I am pleased to share some of my impressions of the recent AYA assembly, an annual event for class officers and other alumni leaders.

We spent the first day learning about the Yale School of Public Health and its wide-ranging curriculum covering the gamut of global public health issues. In addition to faculty, we heard current students present their public health research. I got a kick out of a graduate student’s presentation about her research on the impact of marijuana legalization on public health in Colorado. She told us that the marijuana sold today is much stronger than it used to be. “This is not the same stuff ‘your parents’ smoked when they were in college, and be careful about the strength of the edibles,” she warned us. Now, that’s practical research!

As you may know, prior to the assembly Yale was rocked by student demonstrations and protests about incidents on campus which have caused students of color to feel marginalized. There has been great debate within the Yale community about these incidents, the underlying issues and the freedom of all members of the Yale community to speak out about them. President Salovey and Dean Holloway spoke to the Assembly in an emotional and informative address about these issues and how the university is responding to them. I urge you to take the time to read the many articles and statements from the administration, students and faculty about this situation so you will have a clearer understanding about what has transpired on the Yale campus in recent weeks. Clearly, these issues are being addressed on many other campuses across the country, including peer institutions such as Princeton, Dartmouth and Harvard, and Yale is playing a leadership role in addressing them.

On more mundane matters, your class officers met during the assembly to review the past year’s activities and plan for the next year. We are still glowing from the enthusiastic feedback we received from the sold-out “cluster” mini-reunion we planned with the classes of ‘71 and ‘73. I was pleased to give a presentation at the AYA, together with the secretaries of ‘71 and ‘73, explaining how we organized the mini-reunion and its very positive results. After my presentation, several officers from other classes came up to me and expressed their interest in holding a similar event! We also heard some great ideas from other classes about innovative initiatives to engage classmates including one I would like to replicate in our class, the class of ‘63’s “Classmate on Call”, a confidential support network for classmates to help each other with life challenges.

Our primary priority for the new year is to begin the planning of our 45th reunion! We need to appoint reunion chairs by the spring of ‘61 so that they can attend the class of ‘71 reunion next May, a practice endorsed by AYA. I would like to have male and female co­chairs of our ‘71 reunion, as well as “college captains” to encourage the greatest participation of our classmates. If you are interested in serving as a chair, committee member or college captain, please let me know by email as soon as you can (rbildner@gmail.com)

Finally, I want to express my thanks to my fellow class officers and mini-reunion committee members for their service to our class. It is a great honor and a pleasure to serve with them.

I wish you and your loved ones all a happy and healthy holiday season!



Frank Krejci, Class of 1972 Treasurer

Frank Krejci, Class Treasurer. Photo by Bill Fowkes

Frank Krejci, Class Treasurer. Photo by Bill Fowkes

Frank Krejci’s Report on the Yale Alumni Assembly held November 19 and 20, 2015 in New Haven.

The focus of the conference was on Yale and Public Health.

One breakout session discussed the challenges of finding funding to drive social change. In poor countries, they are trying to find inexpensive ways to diagnose and/or treat people. While the methods may not be as good as what is done in the United States, in many cases it is adequate. They observed that when inexpensive innovations are developed overseas, it is difficult to bring that innovation here. The ideas tend to be branded as inferior and our health system is set up to make it almost impossible to innovate with a primary driver being low cost.

There was a session on the impact of Obamacare. 17.6% of our total Gross National Product is devoted to healthcare. The Senate passed the law without worrying about some of the details since the differences are generally worked out with the House in committee after they pass their version of the law. Unfortunately, between the two votes, the Senate lost its supermajority, which would be needed to pass the bill after the details were worked out. Therefore, the House had to pass the law word for word or give up on it. Unfortunately, the normal but important part of the process was bypassed. The improvements in the law need to better align incentives with outcomes because the system currently economically encourages more procedures and offers few incentives to foster teamwork among the health professionals.

Another presentation focused on the impacts of legalizing marijuana. The presentation strongly implied that putting it into food can be dangerous. For example, there is often 10 times the recommended dose included when it is put into a cookie. Furthermore, it takes about 30 minutes for the impact to be felt. It is therefore a risk that someone may eat another cookie thinking that the first one did not have enough of an impact. In the 1970’s, the active ingredient often amounted to about 4%. It has gotten stronger, now averaging about 12%. The legal limits in the States is 25%. Another observation compared it to cigarettes. Laws have been passed to make cigarette packaging unattractive to discourage its use. For marijuana, the packaging is attractive and encouraging.

Another session focused on creativity. It doesn’t just happen. The process must be deliberate to generate and collect ideas. People must feel comfortable pitching new ideas without feeling stupid. What we can do is simplify the analysis of information. Sometimes that can be done by highlighting variances.

The wellness session was loaded with many ideas. They started the meeting by having us relax through meditation. With feet on the floor, we inhaled through our noses and exhaled through our mouths and cleared our heads of thoughts. It was a wonderful start of the meeting. The Yale Stress Center offers many programs such as Meditation and Mindfulness; taking a group to an art studio to paint or use an adult coloring book; doing aroma therapy workshops; setting up teams to compete with the use of pedometers to encourage exercise; doing a wellness fair; cutting prices on healthy choices in the vending machines; offering chair massages; and encouraging people to eat apples instead of junk food.

There was a session to allow class officers to trade ideas with each other. Rob Bildner made a presentation about our cluster reunion. Among the many other ideas mentioned, one stood out from the Class of ’63. Classmates volunteered to discuss a variety of experiences and expertise that they have on subjects like career, bereavement, estate planning, dealing with diseases, Alzheimer’s, etc. Other classmates who could use some help can talk with any of the volunteers, one on one on a confidential basis. It is a nice way for classmates to connect and help each other through the benefit of their experiences.

For the Class of ’72, we reviewed the feedback from the recent cluster reunion with the classes of ’71 and ’73. Coincidently, these were the first three classes to graduate women as well as the classes who experienced significant social turmoil during our time in New Haven. It proved to be such a great success that we are already discussing having another one in four years so that the timing is optimal relative to our regular reunion schedules. We also began planning our upcoming reunion in 2017. It is important to secure reunion chairs by the spring of 2016, develop a well- defined role for our the Class Council; recruit representatives for each of the residential colleges and invite people from the Classes of ’71 and ’73 to let them know that they are welcome to attend our reunion to see friends that they haven’t seen since college and make some new friends. Lastly, since people often don’t think of going to the website on their own, we discussed doing email blasts every 2 months as a reminder and trying to get more people engaged in social media.


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