Bill Small: A lifetime of commitment to UNC public health
By Linda Kastleman
Editor’s note: This article appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of Carolina Public Health magazine, a publication of UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health
Nearly 40 years ago, William T. Small Jr., MSPH, was a recent alumnus of the UNC master’s program in environmental sciences and engineering. He was working for the North Carolina State Board of Health when an exciting career opportunity arose.
Black students in the UNC public health school were expressing concerns about the lack of diversity in the classroom, and Dean Fred Mayes wanted to find a full–time minority recruiter who could help increase minority student enrollment. It was Small, a native of Wilmington, N.C., who proved to be a perfect fit for the job.
Within a year of his taking the position, the number of minority students increased from 20 to 49.
During the 28 years in which Small served the School in various capacities, he received numerous service awards, including eight from the school's Minority Student Caucus, whose activities he championed. Upon Small's retirement in 1999 as associate dean and senior adviser for multicultural affairs, Dean William Roper named the Caucus' Keynote Lecture in his honor.
Small has never stopped believing in and working for public health initiatives, diversity and educational opportunities for minority students at UNC. To that end, he and his wife recently have endowed The William Thomas Small Jr. and Rosa Williamson Small Scholarship.
Small doubts his career experiences would have been as fulfilling had it not been for financial assistance he received as a graduate student at the school more than 40 years ago.
“Rosa and I are pleased to share in efforts to expand scholarship support and increase student diversity in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health,” Small said. “We recognize the importance of instituting a strong financial base as vital to the school's program to attract and train talented minority students. Moreover, a solid, well-defined student financial assistance program is crucial to the school's ability to compete for the best and brightest students.
“We are excited about the potential benefits of this effort and encourage others of like enthusiasm to join with us in continued support of diversity-enhancing initiatives at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.”