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As it celebrates its 10-year anniversary this spring, the Community Preparedness and Disaster Management certificate program at the Gillings School of Global Public Health will hold a graduation ceremony for 14 students who completed the program in 2013-2014.

The featured commencement speaker at the 11 a.m. ceremony Saturday will be Michael Chertoff, who served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2005-2009. The ceremony will be held at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center’s Carolina Club.

“We’re expecting to have more than 50 alumni join us to celebrate the occasion, and we’re very much looking forward to the reunion,” said Bill Gentry, director of the CPDM program. “We’re so honored to have Secretary Chertoff with us at this milestone.”

Prior to serving as homeland security secretary, Chertoff was a federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 2003-2005 and sssistant attorney general of the U.S., Criminal Division from 2001-2003. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College (1975) and Harvard Law School (1978), then served as clerk to Supreme Court Justice William Brennan Jr. He is co-founder and chairman of The Chertoff Group, where he provides counsel to corporate and government leaders on a broad range of security issues He also is senior counsel at Covington & Burling LLP, a law firm in Washington, D.C.

The CPDM program has admitted and served more than 300 students during its 10-year history, receiving high praise from professionals in the field. Its three-course, nine credit-hour format aims to be affordable for working disaster management professionals while offering academic and clinical materials that better prepare those professionals for collaborating with governments, agencies and others to manage human-caused and natural disasters.

Students in the program have included emergency managers, law enforcement officers, veterinarians, fire and medical first responders, public health officials, military personnel and community leaders. They have come from 72 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, plus 29 states, India, Kenya, Australia and Canada.

“The certificate program fills a professional niche, and in this complex world, it is more and more essential to have agile, effective emergency management officials,” Gentry said. “Our students enter the program with a strong foundation in their chosen work, and we’re proud and pleased that they choose to strengthen and hone their skills through specialized study.”

Read more about the program.

By Linda Kastleman, Gillings School of Global Public Health

Published May 16, 2014