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Norman Fries Distinguished Lectureship Series

Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health
presents the 2022 Fries Lecture

Public Health: Past, Present, Future

Monday, October 17 at 7 p.m.

Performing Arts Center on the Statesboro Campus, Nessmith-Lane Conference Center

R. Christopher Rustin, DrPH, MS, REHS

Georgia Department of Public Health, Chatham County Health Department

Dr. Chris Rustin’s public health career spans over two decades ranging from working in rural and urban health departments, the State Health Department, to a stint in Academia.  Dr. Rustin splits his time between Atlanta and Savannah serving in a dual role; Deputy Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Public Health Administrator for the Chatham County Health Department (CCHD). As the Deputy Commissioner, he assists the Commissioner of Public Health with oversight of statewide public health programs, 159 County Health Departments, and over 6,000 employees statewide. For the past two years, he has served as the Incident Manager coordinating DPHs response to the Covid-19 pandemic and is currently assisting with coordination of the monkeypox response.  As the Chatham County Public Health Administrator, he directs one of the largest Health Departments in the State ensuring local public health services are provided to the Savannah-Chatham community and region.

Dr. Rustin began his career as an intern with the Chatham County Mosquito Control Commission, leading to his first public health position as an Environmental Health Specialist with the Evans County Health Department.  From there he managed and directed Environmental Health programs for Effingham and Chatham County Health Departments.  In 2009, he transferred to DPH headquarters in Atlanta to assume leadership positions in Environmental Health and was promoted to the Director of Health Protection overseeing DPH’s largest Division.  He holds adjunct faculty appointments at several universities and taught Environmental Health Science at Georgia Southern’s Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health.

Dr. Rustin holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Master’s in Safety and Environmental Compliance, and a Doctor of Public Health with an emphasis on Community Health.  He is a Registered Environmental Health Specialist with the Georgia Board of Registered Environmental Health Professionals, a Fellow of the CDC Environmental Public Health Leadership Institute, and the immediate past President of the Georgia Public Health Association.  

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The annual Norman Fries Distinguished Lectureship Series is sponsored by an endowment established to honor Mr. Fries, the founder of Claxton Poultry and former senior statesman of the poultry industry in Georgia. He passed away in December 2001.

Mr. Fries built his business from scratch—one truck, one cooler and one employee—into one of the nation’s largest poultry production plants with 1,600 employees, more than 300 family farm suppliers and an international market. Throughout his 50-plus years in the poultry business, one constant marked Mr. Fries’ career: a solid commitment to remaining an independent poultry producer. He served as past president and director of the Georgia Poultry Federation and director of the National Broiler Council and the Georgia Improvement Lab. He was also a life member of the Georgia Poultry Federation Poultry Leaders Roundtable.

As a boy growing up in Savannah, Mr. Fries ran bicycle deliveries of fresh chicken from his father’s City Market store to homes downtown. After serving in the Navy in World War II and earning a college degree, Mr. Fries returned to Savannah to start his own business. Mr. Fries recognized that retail poultry was changing from his father’s freshly dressed, home-delivered birds to store-bought, prepackaged, fresh poultry. In 1959, he opened Claxton Poultry, which today is one of the largest fully -integrated poultry plants in America.

Fries Lecture Series Archive