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Feb. 2, 2012 Volume 33, No. 18

A senior adviser for health organization begins MU appointment


Glen Nowak


Glen Nowak to help raise awareness of MU research, instruction

A leading expert in strategic communication in health and sciences has been named MU’s first Mizzou Advantage Distinguished Visiting Professional.

Glen Nowak, a senior adviser at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has accepted a part-time one-year appointment that began Jan. 1. During the next year, Nowak will split his time between Columbia and the CDC offices in Atlanta.

With Nowak’s vast experience in media relations and health and science communication, he will collaborate with faculty and staff across an array of disciplines to help the university increase and promote nationally and globally its research and instruction.

“I hope at the end of the day to spend time with students, media relations, and health and science communications” to aid them in going to the next level, Nowak said.

Rolled out in January 2010, Mizzou Advantage was created to increase MU’s visibility, impact and stature in higher education, and to foster collaboration in interdisciplinary instruction.

Glen Cameron, the Maxine Wilson Gregory Chair in Journalism Research at the School of Journalism and scientific adviser of the Health Communication Research Center, said Nowak is a great fit to help accomplish the goals of Mizzou Advantage.

“He’ll help us tell the story of all the fabulous things going on at MU,” Cameron said. “We are not doing enough to make ourselves known in the national media.”

Among Nowak’s tasks will be developing research projects at the journalism school, and advising on grant proposals and health and science communication campaigns, Cameron said.

Kristofer Hagglund, associate dean of health professions and director of the public health program, said public health communication is a challenge because the complexity of health issues can be overwhelming to average Americans. Nowak’s health communication experience at the CDC will be an asset to MU, he said.

“I see [Nowak] as helping us translate our research in clear, concise and easily understood messages,” Hagglund said.

Raised in Milwaukee, Nowak attended the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, earning a BS in economics and communication in 1982, an MA in journalism in 1987 and a PhD in mass communications in 1990.

During the 1990s, he was an associate professor of advertising and communication at the University of Georgia. While there, Nowak advised and collaborated with the CDC on how to handle public communication on the escalating HIV/AIDS health problem.

He joined CDC in 1999 as its associate director of communications of the National Immunization Program. In 2004 he became the CDC’s chief of media relations, and six years later one of its senior advisers.

“Nowak’s experience gives him one foot firmly in communication, and one foot firmly in public health,” said Charles Davis, Mizzou Advantage facilitator and associate professor of journalism.

At the CDC, Nowak developed a journalist-friendly media relations department that fostered a positive relationship between the CDC and media outlets, encouraged collaboration among the multiple centers within the health organization, and helped make health and science palatable to the general public.

Nowak said he’s most proud of the latter accomplishment.

“I had to get [doctors and scientists] to understand that you have to translate a lot of our science into words and phrases the general public understands,” he said.

Besides working behind the scenes with staff and faculty, Nowak, whose first stint on campus is Feb. 27 through March 2, will give public lectures, speak at health and science classes and work with journalism students on health reporting.