CONTACT: DAVE PEDERSEN
CONTACT: DAN McMILLAN
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
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.