Victor J. Schoenbach selected contributions

Since 1980 I have taught an introductory epidemiology course - for the first 20 years the introductory course for epidemiology majors, and since fall 2001 the introductory course for all non-majors. During the first course (EPID168, now EPID710) I developed my lecture notes into an "Evolving Text", which when I left the course I placed on a public website ( for use by students at UNC and elsewhere. Chapters from the textbook have been downloaded by thousands of users, including many students, in countries all over the world. The website also has other learning materials that I developed during my years of teaching EPID168. I have also used that website as a historical site for the introductory epidemiology courses I have taught, including a roster of the teaching assistants I have worked with since 1980 (two of them became university presidents!).

In fall 2001 I began teaching EPID160 (now EPID600), the introdoctory epidemiology course for non-majors, first in the classroom and beginning the following summer on the Internet. The course had been designed for small-group cooperative learning by Lorraine Alexander, who continued with the course, and Carl Shy. Over the years I added lectures (which had largely been discontinued), reworked case studies, and built a public website to make lectures and case studies available freely. (My suggestion at a SPH faculty meeting that the School follow MIT's lead and make all of our course materials available aroused no interest.) Over the 10+ years since then, the EPID160/EPID600 materials have been downloaded by thousands, including faculty at numerous universities in the U.S. and abroad who have requested permission to draw from them for their courses.

Since 1991 I have worked with the planning committee for the student-led Annual Minority Health Conference, which was created in 1977 by the SPH Minority Student Caucus (MSC). Although I had not been involved in the conference and had attended it on only a few occasions, when I applied for an NIH grant for a Minority Cancer Control Research Program at the end of the 1980s, I decided to propose that this new Program would work with the conference. However, the conference was not held in 1989 and 1990. So when the program was funded, I went to then Assistant Dean for Students William T. Small, Jr., who had been hired at the instigation of minority students and had helped to found the conference. We worked together to revive the tradition. Bill spoke with members of the Caucus, recruited volunteers to lead the planning effort, and obtained financial resources from the Dean. I made some suggestions, including enlisting the assistance of the School's Office of Continuing Education, and attended the planning committee meetings. The Minority Cancer Control Research Program organized one of the sessions each year.

The Conference revival was a big success, with a much larger attendance and lots of attention. Each year's conference since then, with the exception of the year that a freak snowstorm forced a cancellation, has been highly successful. In the mid-1990s, after years of arranging overflow rooms since Rosenau Auditorium was at capacity, the conference moved to the Friday Center. Since the end of the 1990s, however, registration has been closed off weeks before the conference due to being at capacity. Partly for this reason and based on my experience with the Annual Summer Public Health Research Videoconference (which I inherited in 1998), I helped to bring about the webcasting and then satellite broadcasting of the Keynote Lecture. In most years the moderator for the broadcast was a graduate student, though this year, at the suggestion of the conference co-chair, the moderator was a faculty member (Dr. Adimora). I also began arranging for the videotaping of the welcomes and introductions before the Keynote Lecture (which was being videotaped for the broadcast) so that the conference co-chairs could have a souvenir of their accomplishments. I now give DVDs of the session to the co-chairs.

When I assumed the leadership of the Minority Health Project (which produces the Annual Summer Public Health Research Videoconference on Minority Health), I inherited a website, Given the generic URL for this website, I decided it should also serve other minority-related activities on campus. We created an extensive set of links and an events page. I also created a set of webpages for the Annual Minority Health Conference, moving the previous year's conference page into an archival record (the Office of Continuing Education had been creating a webpage each year but had not been saving them from year to year). I also created an on-line abstract submission webform for the poster session presentations for the conference and published the abstracts on the web.

By the end of the 1990s it was clear to me that the Caucus should have a webpage of its own, but the School of Public Health wasn't managing to create one. So I created a page for the Caucus at and began archiving the names of their officers. I wish I had begun the process earlier, since there seems to be no other such record. I have begun assembling a database to record this information as I learn it. In 1999, after my efforts to generate resources to compile a history of minority health-related activities at the School were not making progress, I began to compile notes for one from my recollections and some sources available to me.

In 2003 I nominated (with Sonja Hutchins, Vijaya Hogan, and Gladys Reynolds) Bill Jenkins for a Distinguished Alumnus Award. The award was made, and Martha Monnett and I arranged a dinner in his honor at the Carolina Inn on University Day. The dinner was attended by Bill Jenkins and his wife, Diane Rowley, Richard "Stick" Williams (chair of the UNC Board of Trustees) and his wife Teresa, Joan Cornoni-Huntley (Bill's former faculty advisor in Epidemiology), Sherman James (a close associate and former Epidemiology faculty member), Mayra Alvarez and Dara Hall Mendez (MSC Co-presidents), Sacoby Wilson (a past Co-President), and Martha and me.

In 2004 I was asked to be a faculty advisor for the SPH Minority Student Caucus and have continued in that role to the present. During summer 2005, when the School was soliciting donations to be recognized on glass panels in the new Michael Hooker Research Center about to be dedicated, with Martha Monnett's help I organized a campaign to raise funds for a panel recognizing the founders, officers, members, and supporters of the Minority Student Caucus. That experience suggested that it would be helpful to have an organization of alumni who had worked with the caucus during their years at the School, since they could be a resource to the current members of the caucus, could continue to work together to advance their goals, and could be a resource for campaigns to celebrate this rich history. With the help of a Zipatly Mendoza (MSC co-president), who was also working as my assistant on the Minority Health Project, we created MSCalumnet for past officers, members, and friends of the Caucus, with a web page and an email list. At the 2007 Annual Minority Health Conference, the Caucus presented me with a plaque in recognition of this activity and my other service to the Caucus.

In fall 2005, Tim Minor in the UNC Office of Development arranged for me to make a presentation (36MB) to the Carolina First Minority Alumni Committee (since renamed) about minority health and diversity activities at the School of Public Health. Working with Martha Monnett and Zipatly Mendoza, I created a presentation to be made jointly with MSC co-presidents Iguehi Esoimeme and Zipatly Mendoza, Chandra Ford, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Fellow and recent SPH MSC graduate), Danielle Spurlock Co-chair of the 26th Annual Minority Health Conference), Anissa Vines (Associate Director, ECHO Program and a past member of the SPH MSC), and Martha Monnett (Associate Director for Development, SPH).

In 2006-2012 I again helped to organize the broadcast of the Annual William T. Small, Jr. Keynote Lecture from the 27th-33rd Annual Minority Health Conferences. In 2012 I was profoundly honored when the Minority Health Conference co-chairs, Turquoise Griffith and Kea Turner, added an afternoon keynote lecture as the "1st Annual Victor J. Schoenbach Health Disparities Keynote Lecture." (link)

When I was at APHA in Boston in 2006 (I think), I began promoting the idea that Minority Student Caucus alumni communicate with minority student organizations in other schools of public health to host an event of their own on the same day as UNC's Annual Minority Health Conference and use the broadcast of the William T. Small, Jr. Keynote Lecture as their Keynote lecture. Theresa Chapple broached the idea to Wade Ivey III, President of Minority Students for the Advancement of Public Health (MSAPH) at the University of Illinois, Chicago School of Public Health. Wade and Theresa came to the 2008 Annual Minority Health Conference at UNC and also arranged to broadcast the 2008 Videoconference in their auditorium. They also interested Amaru Sanchez of Public Health Alliance for Minorities (PHAM) at Boston University School of Public Health. Vic met with Wade and Amaru at the 2008 APHA meeting in San Diego to discuss the plan for coordinated conferences. During the subsequent months leading up to the broadcast, Che Smith (chair of the broadcast committee for the 30th Annual Minority Health Conference) and I communicated with Wade Ivey (MSAPH/UIC), Judith Sayad (UIC SPH Student Affairs), Amaru Sanchez (PHAM/BU), Byron Douglas Hughes (Society of Young Black Public Health Professionals (SYBPHP) at Tulane SPH), Abby Rincón (Berkeley SPH Student Affairs), Armando Hernandez (MultiCultural Student Organization (MCSO) at University of California, Berkeley SPH), Chandra Ford (MSC alumna on faculty at UCLA), and Camillia Lui (Students of Color for Public Health (SCPH) at UCLA) to work out arrangements and publicity.

I created a web page listing the "partner conferences". The largest partner conference was UIC's First Annual Minority Health in the Midwest Conference, which drew over 150 participants. PHAM's event stimulated a 2+ hour discussion, with 12 students, two associate deans, two professors, and two staff, about the direction the institution should take in addressing health disparities. Tulane had 23 students, faculty, and administrators to view the broadcast and participate in a panel discussion on "The Representation of Minorities in Professional Fields". Berkeley and UCLA had successful events as well. Partner conferences have become a regular feature of the Annual Minority Health Conference. Webpages listing the partner conferences can be found at the above URL (replace "2009" with the year).

In 1998 Lloyd Edwards, then principal investigator, invited me to join the Minority Health Project ( When Lloyd took a position at Duke University later that year, I inherited the Project. Although the funding was not renewed, with smaller amounts of money the Project has been able to continue and expand its annual Summer Public Health Research Institute on Minority Health as an interactive Videoconference, renamed in 2012 the National Health Equity Research Webcast. The history of these activities is described at

In recent years I have become concerned about the loss of the knowledge of the School's history, especially the history of the Minority Student Caucus. My one attempt to obtain CDC funding to begin to preserve this history did not succeed, but besides archiving Minority Health Conference materials on the MHP website, I have worked with Stephen Couch (SPH External Affairs), Fran Allegri (Health Sciences Library) and her colleagues, and others collecting and curating materials from the Minority Student Caucus' past. I have also recorded interviews, in 2011, with Berton Kaplan, Ethel Jean and Curtis Jackson, with John W. Hatch. In 2012 I assisted H. Jack Geiger in converting to DVD several VHS taped interviews that Robert Korstad conducted with himself, John Hatch, and L.C. Dorsey about the Delta Health Center in Mound Bayou, Mississippi.

To be continued, hopefully!


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3/9/2008, 8/12/2012