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Regents Launch Public Health Initiative To Meet Increased Demand

Atlanta — January 14, 2004

With a goal of positioning the University System of Georgia as a national leader in public health education, the Board of Regents today approved the creation of three new academic programs and a new school of public health at Georgia Southern University in a move aimed at expanding the production of high-quality public health professionals.

The Board of Regents adopted the University System of Georgia’s Strategic Plan for Public Health, Education, Research and Service, which outlines how the System will address the “evolving and expanding” public health needs of the state - including leveraging private support for the new initiative. In addition to program creation and expansion, the strategic plan also encompasses the creation of a new Administrative Committee for Public Health, which “will serve as the strategic planning advisory body for public health programs across the System and foster interdisciplinary cooperation, assistance and growth.”

“We are committed to being a strong and proactive economic-development partner for the state,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith, “and that includes effectively assessing and addressing workforce needs and demands. This initiative will expand the availability of formal academic training in the public health sector, and will help us significantly expand the production of graduates in this high-demand discipline.”

The board approved the creation of three new Master of Public Health programs that will emphasize teaching, research and service, including:

  • An M.P.H. to be offered by the University of Georgia’s Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, which will be offered as an interdisciplinary collaboration between the established Department of Environmental Health Science and the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, in cooperation with other public-health related groups, including Food and Nutrition, Exercise Science, and the interdisciplinary program in Toxicology and Gerontology;

  • An M.P.H. to be offered by Georgia State University’s multi-disciplinary, research-based Institute of Public Health, which will draw upon the faculty of all six Georgia State colleges and will emphasize basic prevention sciences as well as applied public health efforts; and

  • An M.P.H. with a major in health informatics to be offered by the Medical College of Georgia, which will focus on producing graduates to manage healthcare organizations and information systems in such settings as hospitals, health maintenance organizations, clinics, public health departments, and other health-care related organizations.

The chancellor praised the University of Georgia and the Medical College of Georgia for their extensive collaboration in creating complementary academic programs.

The Board of Regents also authorized the redesignation of the Department of Public Health at Georgia Southern University as a School of Public Health, and the establishment of the school as the Jiann-Ping Hsu School of Public Health.

GSOU alumnus Dr. Karl E. Peace has committed a gift of $2.5 million to endow student scholarships, faculty support and scholarship in the new school, which is being named in honor of Peace’s wife, Dr. Jiann-Ping Hsu. Peace also provided an additional gift of $750,000, which led the institution to name the Karl E. Peace Center for Biostatistics within the new School. The major donor had previously contributed $500,000 to his alma mater to create the Karl E. Peace Professorship of Biostatistics, which was matched with an additional $500,000 from the state’s Eminent Scholars Endowed Trust, bringing the new school’s total endowment to at least $4.25 million.

In addition to approving the establishment of the new school and the three new academic programs, the board also authorized the three existing M.P.H. programs in the University System to focus on a mission of teaching and service. These offerings include programs at Armstrong Atlantic State University, Fort Valley State University and Georgia Southern University.

“Our goal is to span the state with high-quality programs that will provide the planning, evaluation and critical thinking skills needed by the middle and upper-level managers and professionals in Georgia’s public health sector,” said Dr. Daniel S. Papp, senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs with the Board of Regents. “If we continue to strategically address the documented need in this burgeoning field, the University System’s goal of attaining national prominence in public health education definitely can be realized and optimized.”

The need to expand the production of public health professionals is well documented. According to University System academic affairs officials, the growth in health-care professions in Georgia is expected to exceed 36 percent by the year 2012. This demand is accentuated by the presence in Atlanta of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which employs some 8,600 professionals – many in public health fields. Within state government, more than 20 percent - or $3.2 billion - of Georgia’s state budget was dedicated to health and human services funding during Fiscal Year 2004.

At the national level, a 2000 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found approximately 450,000 persons employed in the public-health workforce nationally, yet less than a quarter of those professionals had received formal academic preparation for their positions. Between the years 2000 and 2010, healthcare occupations are expected to grow by 29 percent nationally, compared to a growth of 18 percent in non-health fields.

The University System’s new Administrative Committee for Public Health will review all proposed expansions of public health programs in the System before such proposals are submitted to University System Office officials, the chancellor and the Board of Regents. In addition, ACPH will be charged with assuring planning and cooperation among the six USG public health programs to ensure success in their respective areas of emphasis. The Committee will consist of one member from each of the six programs and a University System Office staff liaison to the Committee. It will be chaired by one of its members as designated by the chancellor. The group will be expected to meet at least semi-annually and produce an annual report for the chancellor and the Board of Regents.

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