The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us
(319) 335-6835
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 335-8034

Release: March 12, 1999

UI to propose College of Public Health at March regents' meeting

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa will establish a College of Public Health, the first new college at the UI since 1949, if the State Board of Regents approves the UI proposal at its meeting in Ames March 17-18.

Establishing the college would involve the transition of the department of preventive medicine and environmental health, based in the UI College of Medicine, into the College of Public Health. Under the proposal, James Merchant, M.D., Dr.P.H., professor and head of the department, would become dean of the new college. New faculty positions are planned to help establish a department of community and behavioral health in the college and to strengthen the existing divisions of biostatistics, epidemiology, occupational and environmental health, and health management and policy.

The College of Public Health would offer a master of public health (M.P.H.) degree as well as a non-degree certificate in public health. The college would educate and train Iowa's current and future health care professionals, serve as a statewide public health resource, promote public health prevention and research, and provide outreach services to all Iowans.

"The department of preventive medicine already offers master of science degrees as well as doctorates in several public health disciplines, but not the M.P.H., which is the primary professional degree for public health practitioners," said Robert P. Kelch, M.D., dean of the UI College of Medicine. "Establishing the College of Public Health will enhance the curriculum and research being done by all the UI colleges, and play an important part in developing outreach programs that improve the health of Iowa families."

Students in the M.P.H. program would receive instruction in the core disciplines of public health -- epidemiology (the study of the incidence, spread and control of disease), biostatistics, social and behavioral sciences, environmental health sciences, and health management and policy. In addition, students will be required to complete a public health practice practicum in a community setting where these disciplines are applied.

A College of Public Health at Iowa also would "offer a great opportunity to work with faculty and researchers at the other regents' institutions and develop public health training programs in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Public Health and local health departments and health systems statewide," added Merchant. "We have found a great deal of interest in the new college, the proposed distance learning M.P.H. and certificate in public health through our meetings with health organizations and community representatives across Iowa," he said.

The College of Public Health is the centerpiece of the university's Public Health Initiative (PHI), which also includes the Health and Independence of Elderly Iowans Program, a proposal designed to research health issues and develop programs addressing the state's growing elderly population.

The new college would join the UI Graduate College and the UI Colleges of Business, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Law, Liberal Arts, Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing, the last college established in 1949.

In 1998 the Iowa Board of Regents approved the M.P.H. degree and a request for special appropriations for the PHI. Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack included a funding request of $1.05 million for the initiative in his proposed budget, which is currently before the Iowa General Assembly.