Fool!  At least that was what came out of my wife’s mouth as we were discussing my latest failure to say “no!”  In this case, it was a request to take over as Interim Chair of the University of Michigan School of Public Health Environmental Health Sciences Department.

You know that feeling where volunteers are asked for and before you know it everyone else has taken a step back?  It wasn’t really like that, but with the current Chair Howard Hu moving onto bigger and better things at the University of Toronto, I did find myself unexpectedly in the firing line.

All joking aside, this is a tremendous opportunity to work with a great department and build on the solid foundation laid by my predecessors.  The appointment is just for a year while plans are laid for a more permanent incumbent (on my insistence – one day I hope to get a life!), but over the next twelve months there are exciting plans to further strengthen the department’s research, education and translation programs.  I’m also taking over leadership of the department at a time when we are looking to re-frame environmental health science within the broad context of human-environment interactions and their consequences.  This is a tremendously exciting point in the department’s history as we develop powerful synergies within a highly interdisciplinary department to address complex health challenges from a science perspective.

In the meantime, I will still be directing the University of Michigan Risk Science Center, and trying my best to write here and elsewhere about interesting stuff.  But this in particular was the source of my wife’s derision.  When I asked her whether I should refer to my self as “Interim Chair or simply “Chair”, she replied “fool”!

Well, I guess it’s just fool for a year.