Introduction presented by Dr. Susan Pell (’95)
I have the distinct honor and pleasure of introducing Dr. Rodney Lyn, this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award. Rodney holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Physical Education from St. Andrews Presbyterian College, and a Masters in Exercise Science and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from Georgia State University.
Dr. Lyn is currently serving as Dean in the School of Public Health, as full professor in the Department of Health Policy and Behavioral Sciences, and as Co-Principal Investigator for the Prevention Research Center at Georgia State University, where he has spent the majority of his distinguished career. His first position at Georgia State was in 2004 as a Research Associate in their Institute of Public Health. He was then promoted to Academic Professional and, after completing his Ph.D. in 2008, was recruited for an Assistant Professor faculty position in 2009. Along his career path from this first tenure-track position, Rodney advanced to the level of full professor while also serving in numerous leadership positions at Georgia State, including as the Deputy Director of the Center for Excellence on Health Disparities, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Interim Division Director for the Division of Health Management and Policy, Senior Associate Dean for Academic and Strategic initiatives, and interim Dean of the School of Public Health before earning that position permanently 2021.
Dr. Lyn has been awarded over $16 million in grants and awards to support his research from notable funders such as the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and various foundations and departments dedicated to public health and children’s education in the state of Georgia. Dr. Lyn has published 46 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters as well as several editorials and white papers. He has given hundreds of public talks and media interviews and teaches graduate courses on Public Health Policy, Analysis, and Advocacy; Public Health Leadership and Policy; and Childhood Obesity Prevention. Of his teaching abilities, one of his students wrote, “Dr. Lyn was a phenomenal professor. He is the type of passionate, thoughtful person I would hope to work with or find in the field after graduation. He was very skilled at holding space in the classroom and was calm and patient with students when guiding (sometimes heated) policy discussions.”
Rodney’s research focuses on school and community health, the prevention of childhood obesity, and the reduction of health disparities. His publications have covered racial disparities in breast cancer, access to healthy foods, premature death, chronic diseases, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout his career, Dr. Lyn has advised and worked closely with state and federal agencies, professional associations, not-for-profits, and the philanthropic community on a variety of public health initiatives. He is dedicated to identifying effective policy and system approaches to increasing physical activity and healthy eating in children, and reducing health disparities.
His recent projects include addressing food deserts through a partnership with Morehouse School of Medicine entitled Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health; supporting and accelerating local policy and environmental interventions for obesity prevention through the Georgia Childhood Obesity Prevention Program; preventing tobacco use through Partnerships to Improve Community Health, a collaboration with Fulton County Health Department; and examining mortality disparities and resilience in low-income, minority communities in the South.
In addition to his professional appointments and research initiatives, Rodney serves the broader health community through service on numerous working groups and advisory committees. These include the Equity and Resilience Work Group and School Wellness Work Group, both of the Physical Activity Policy Research and Evaluation Network; the California Breast Cancer Research Program; the Maximizing Access to Research Careers advisory committee of the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences; the advisory committee of the University of California – San Diego’s Institute for Public Health; and the MPH Council of the Association for Schools and Programs of Public Health. About his research, one of Dr. Lyn’s colleagues said, “Through his work, Dr. Lyn is a great example of how scholars can collaborate with public health practitioners and policy makers to assure that scholarly work is both informed by and applied to significant health concerns.”
If you were lucky enough to have attended St. Andrews with Rodney, none of his accomplishments should come as a surprise to you. His dedication to excellence and serving others, his focus on health, his character, and his emotional intelligence were already very strong when we were in college those million years ago. Through his already illustrious career, Rodney has solidified what I always knew to be true of him since we first roamed this campus together: he is an honorable, kind, caring, intelligent man who makes this world a better place.
Without further ado, please join me in welcoming my friend and distinguished St. Andrews alumnus, Dr. Rodney Lyn, to the podium.