The Dr. William ‘Bill’ Jenkins Health Equity Lecture
In memory of Dr. William ‘Bill’ Jenkins
The Dr. William (Bill) Jenkins Health Equity Lecture honors Bill Jenkins PhD, MPH, MS (1945 – 2019) and recognizes his outstanding legacy of innovative public health action, dedication to the elimination of health disparities, and efforts to promote the highest ethical standards in public health practice during his CDC tenure and in academia. Lecture topics will focus on initiatives to improve health for communities of color, and efforts to promote public health ethics, social justice, and health equity. Speakers are selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP) Office of Health Equity (OHE) in collaboration with Dr. Jenkins’ wife, Dr. Diane Rowleyexternal icon.
Note: This lecture was previously scheduled for June 2, 2020 but was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2021 Dr. William ‘Bill’ Jenkins Health Equity Lecturer
Dr. F. DuBois Bowmanexternal icon is a distinguished researcher whose scholarship focuses on mental health and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression. He is Dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health and a tenured professor of biostatistics. Dr. Bowman earned a master’s degree in biostatistics from the University of Michigan and a doctorate degree in biostatistics from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Dr. Bowman earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics in 1992 from Morehouse College, which is where he was a mentee of Dr. Bill Jenkins. Dr. Jenkins mentored many students but had a special bond with Dr. Bowman, as both shared a love for mathematics and biostatistics. In 1970 when attending his first American Statistical Association meeting, Dr. Jenkins realized that there were fewer than five African Americans with doctorates in either epidemiology or biostatistics. He committed himself to advancing his education and to recruiting more people like himself into the field. As the embodiment of Dr. Jenkins’ dream for diversity and excellence in public health leadership and practice, Dr. Bowman now passes forward the mentoring and support that he received from Dr. Jenkins as he skillfully guides and encourages future public health leaders in his role as Dean of University of Michigan School of Public Health.
Title of Lecture:
Public Health Leadership in Trying Times
The last year has presented some of the most significant challenges in society in over a century. As a nation, we have confronted a public health pandemic of historic proportions and we have experienced increased visibility of racial injustice and calls to upend racism. Health equity is deeply rooted in both crises, and public health leadership is needed to address them. In this talk, Dr. F. DuBois Bowman will highlight why public health scholars, researchers, and professionals should lead the way as we work to create health equity, improve health for communities of color, and address pressing social justice issues.
|10:00–10:05 AM||Opening Remarks:
Dr. Donna Hubbard McCree (Associate Director for Health Equity, NCHHSTP)
CAPT Deron Burton (Deputy Director, NCHHSTP)
|10:05–10:15 AM||Reflections on the work and legacy of Dr. Jenkins:
Dr. Diane Rowleyexternal icon (Professor Emerita, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health)
|10:15–11:15 AM||Lecture + Q&A “Public Health Leadership in Trying Times”: Dr. F. DuBois Bowman|
|11:15–11:55 AM||Panel discussion with distinguished leaders on the lecture topic:
Dr. Georges Benjamin external icon (Executive Director, American Public Health Association)
Dr. Leandris Liburd (CDC, Associate Director for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity)
Dr. F. DuBois Bowman (Dean, University of Michigan School of Public Health)
|11:55 AM–12:00 PM||Closing Remarks: Dr. Hazel Deanexternal icon (Editor-In-Chief, Public Health Reports)|
Photo: Jenkins in the 1970s
Dr. William (Bill) Jenkins was born on July 26, 1945, in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics (1967) at Morehouse College and a Master of Science in biostatistics (1974) at Georgetown University. He received a Master of Public Health (1977) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and went on to earn a doctorate in epidemiology (1983) at UNC. In 1967, the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps recruited Dr. Jenkins as a statistician to work in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Early in his career, Dr. Jenkins became active in the area of public health and biomedical research ethics as he and others worked to bring a stop to the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, 1932-1972, in which Black men in Alabama were unethically denied available treatment for their syphilis infections in order to document the natural history of untreated syphilis. From 1995 to 2003, Dr. Jenkins ran the Tuskegee Health Benefits Program, in which the government provides medical services to the survivors and affected family members. Dr. Jenkins organized the Syphilis Study Legacy Committeeexternal icon, a group of historians, bioethicists, and health professionals who issued a report in 1996 urging President Clinton to apologize for the emotional, medical, and psychological damage of the study. On May 16, 1997, at a White House ceremony, President Clinton delivered a formal apology for the study on behalf of the country. In 2002, Dr. Jenkins produced a documentary titled, “Voices of the Tuskegee Study” in partnership with the Tuskegee Human & Civil Rights Multicultural Centerexternal icon using a grant from CDC.
Photo: Jenkins at Corporate Square
While Dr. Jenkins started his career at NCHS in 1967 (leaving in 1975 for school), upon his return, he spent the majority of his CDC career (1980 to 2003) in what is now NCHHSTP (National Center HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB prevention). In 1980, Dr. Jenkins joined the Division of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Prevention as a mathematical statistician in the National Center for Prevention Services (NCPS – the forerunner of NCHHSTP). During his 23 years in NCHHSTP, Dr. Jenkins served in multiple roles of increasing leadership, including as a section chief, a supervisory epidemiologist, and as Manager of the Minority Health Activities Office. Also, while at CDC, Dr. Jenkins founded several organizations and programs focused on improving African American health outcomes and eliminating health disparities. In 1982, with CDC support, Dr. Jenkins founded Project IMHOTEPexternal icon, an eleven-week summer internship program designed to increase the knowledge and skills of underrepresented minority students in biostatistics, epidemiology, and occupational safety and health. In 2001, Dr. Jenkins led the development of the center’s Minority Health Strategic Plan that prompted the creation of the center Office for Health Disparities (now Health Equity).
Photo: Jenkins in Charleston, SC
Outside of CDC, Dr. Jenkins expanded the capacity of the public health workforce to address health disparities. In 1988, he founded Morehouse College’s Public Health Sciences Instituteexternal icon to better prepare underrepresented minority students for entry into graduate schools of public health, with special emphasis on the quantitative sciences of biostatistics, epidemiology, and occupational safety and health. In 1991, he founded the Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues (SAAPHI)external icon, an affiliate of the American Public Health Association (APHA). SAAPHI is a nonprofit organization comprised of health professionals dedicated to improving the health of African Americans. In 1995, Dr. Jenkins founded the Master of Public Health Program at Morehouse School of Medicineexternal icon and consulted on the development of public health programs at other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Additionally, he led the creation of a CDC cooperative agreement that supported the development of graduate level public health programs at HBCUs. Following his retirement from CDC, Dr. Jenkins remained active in the pursuit of health equity and the promotion of public health ethics as professor of public health sciences at Morehouse College and associate director of Morehouse’s Research Center on Health Disparities. Dr. Jenkins moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife when she became a professor at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Healthexternal icon where he served as adjunct professor of epidemiology. He remained an actively engaged mentor, lecturer, and champion for health equity and social justice until his passing on February 17, 2019.