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Release: Immediate

Regents approve funding request for UI's Public Health Initiative

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Iowa Board of Regents has approved the University of Iowa's request for special purpose appropriations to help fund a Public Health Initiative (PHI), including the formation of a School of Public Health within the UI.

The Board of Regents on Wednesday, Sept. 23 approved the request of $1.25 million for fiscal year 2000, and $2.75 million for fiscal year 2001, to send to the governor and general assembly. The money would be used to recruit faculty and develop curriculum for the School of Public Health and to fund the Health and Independence of Elderly Iowans Program, a UI proposal designed to address the special health concerns of Iowa's elderly residents.

The UI School of Public Health, a campus-wide collaborative effort to be developed in cooperation with other Regents' institutions, would be the only such school in Iowa. It would confer a master of public health (MPH) degree and a non-degree certificate in public health. The school would educate and train Iowa's current and future health care professionals in public health, serve as a statewide public health resource, promote prevention and public health research, and provide public health outreach services to all Iowans.

"The UI College of Medicine has long played an important role in public health education and policy. The establishment of the School of Public Health deepens our commitment to improving the health and well-being of Iowa families," said Dr. Robert P. Kelch, dean of the college.

"The School of Public Health will enhance the curriculum and research of every college at the UI, provide a great way to collaborate with ISU and UNI via distance learning, and be an enthusiastic supporter of public health throughout Iowa," added Dr. James Merchant, UI professor and head of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health. Under the PHI, the department will be enlarged into the School of Public Health.

The MPH degree proposal was unanimously approved by the UI Graduate College faculty at their meeting on Sept. 16. The proposal has been sent to UI Provost Jon Whitmore for approval, who will submit the MPH proposal to the Board of Regents for final approval at a later date.