Letter from Jeff Fisher June 18, 2018

Dear InCHIP Affiliates, Principal Investigators, and Staff:

This is a good-bye message from me as InCHIP Director, although I will have an office on the second floor of Ryan for the next few years. Starting July 1, Amy Gorin and her team will be running the show at InCHIP, and I will step down from my administrative role.

I’ve been privileged to be the founding Director of InCHIP and its predecessors, the UConn AIDS Risk Reduction Project (ARRP) and the UConn Center for Health, Intervention and Policy (CHIP). Due to all of you, its remarkable affiliates, PIs, staff, and Associate Directors, InCHIP and its predecessors have accomplished a tremendous amount. We started out with a small number of affiliates in just two disciplines (see photo below), and now have about 400, spanning almost every school and college at UConn, and more than 60 other institutions.

(From Left) William Fisher (University of Ontario), Michael Copenhaver, Jeff Fisher, Seth Kalichman, Leslie Snyder, Blair Johnson, Kerry Marsh, , Bede Agocha, and Deborah Cornman.

We’ve performed research that has improved the public health in important ways in the US and globally. In the process, since 2002, we obtained $160 million in external grant funding, and generated $40 million in indirect cost returns to UConn. We’ve worked to support the success of many fabulous UConn researchers and recruited remarkable faculty to join InCHIP from other institutions. We also recruited the Rudd Center to move to InCHIP from Yale, and the Center for mHealth and Social Media to move to InCHIP from U. Mass Medical Center.

It has been a wonderful opportunity for me, along with a cast of many extremely talented academics and administrative colleagues, to have had a role in our evolution. We have done things we never thought would be possible, and for that I am very proud. Being the founding Director of InCHIP has been one of the greatest privileges of my professional life. After I retire on September 1, I look forward to interacting with all of you in my new phase of life. I’ll continue my passion of studying vexing problems that occur when folks do not behave in the best interest of their health. I love understanding the dynamics of such behavior and designing theory-based interventions to help people change. I don’t think I could be happy without playing at least a bit in this fascinating sandbox. I’ll be writing some grants, helping UConn find global partners for health research, doing some mentoring, and consulting on how to build successful Centers and Institutes elsewhere. Consulting is very different from directing a Center or Institute day after day, year after year. It’s more like being a grandparent—you visit, enjoy, and leave after a few days!

I want to thank all the many folks who worked with me on my research over the years, beginning before we received NIH funding for ARRP– from 1975 to 1989. It was impossible to pay you, but you believed in what we were doing, and that was somehow enough. Many fabulous colleagues, graduate students, post-docs and professional employees worked with me from 1989-2014 on my NIH grants with Bill Fisher. You deserve great credit for our scientific accomplishments.

I deeply thank everyone within and outside of the Institute who made InCHIP and its predecessors possible. Outside of InCHIP, several Vice Presidents of Research, Provosts, and Vice Provosts have been extremely supportive. Skip Lowe and then Provost John Petersen worked closely with me to initially obtain UConn funding for the Center in 2002. Most relevant to the present context, I am grateful to all of those who worked with me to build InCHIP and its predecessors. Over the years there have been too many of you to mention individually, but I am extremely grateful to each of you. Deborah Cornman has been Associate Director since we began and contributed a great deal to our progress. Vasinee Long worked with us for many years, has passed away, and is fondly remembered. Melissa Stone has been with us from the start in many different critical roles. Steve Jagielo, AnnMarie White, Lynne Hendrickson, Grace Morris, Aaron Plotke, Melanie Skolnick and Josh Hardin contribute greatly to the finest administrative team anywhere. Because of these folks, our Associate Directors, and our affiliates and PIs, InCHIP is widely considered one of UConn’s crown jewels.

After sixteen years in an administrative role, it’s a pleasure to pass the administrative torch to Dr. Amy Gorin. I’m delighted that InCHIP will have a new Director with such vision and talent. I wish Amy every success in running this remarkable Institute which all of you helped to build. I’ve loved working with you and serving as founding InCHIP Director. I look forward to interacting with you after my retirement on September 1 in my new role as active InCHIP affiliate, health promotion researcher, consultant, extremely attentive parent and grandparent, and leisurely world traveler!

With affection,
Jeff