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Spero Manson announced as 2022 Commencement Speaker

May 3, 2022

Loyola University Chicago’s Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health is delighted to welcome Spero Manson, PhD, (Pembina Chippewa), a leading authority in regard to American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) health, as its 2022 Commencement speaker on Wednesday, May 11.  

Manson is a distinguished professor and the Colorado Trust Chair in American Indian Health at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus where he also directs the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health. His programs include 10 national centers, which pursue research, program development, training, and collaboration with 250 Native communities.  

Over the course of his career, Manson has acquired over $200 million in sponsored research to support this work and published 280 articles and book chapters on the assessment, epidemiology, treatment, and prevention of health problems over the developmental life span of Native people. 

“Dr. Manson’s life-long efforts to address the health disparities facing Native American populations reflects our own commitment to social justice and improving health equity," said Elaine Morrato, DrPH, MPH, CPH, founding dean of the Parkinson School. "We are honored to have him join us for the Parkinson School’s first in-person commencement since its founding in 2019 and look forward to the inspiration he will share with our graduates." 

Manson’s research addresses the challenge of bringing culturally appropriate health education, grounded in evidence from community-participatory methods, to address the challenges faced by AI/AN communities. He has developed community-participatory based research methods in partnership with tribal communities, established model approaches for mentoring Native researchers, and advanced and evaluated innovative solutions to problems such as substance and alcohol use, suicide and behavioral and mental health, that have affected generations of AI/AN people. 

“Native traditions are joining with the skills of public health and social work practitioners to ‘bring light to the darkness’ the COVID-19 pandemic introduced into our lives,” says Manson. “Today’s graduates from the Parkinson School add importantly to this partnership, contributing their knowledge, enthusiasm, and commitment to improving the health of humankind.” 

In recognition of Manson’s contributions to the field of public health, Loyola will confer an honorary degree to Manson during Commencement, which will take place at Gentile Arena at the Lake Shore Campus. The University awards only two honorary degrees each year.