Public Health welcomes new students with record number of online offerings
Student demand for distance learning to complement classroom teaching climbs
With three new online degrees, a resource expo, and a celebrity guest, USF’s College of Public Health kicked off the 2013-14 academic year.
USF Bulls mascot Rocky D. Bull welcomed hundreds of coeds to campus as they descended on the college for new student orientation. The annual event began on Thursday, August 22, and included two days of information sessions, expos, and interactive activities.
“As the state’s first accredited college of public health, it’s our mandate to ensure the workforce is applying the most current skills,” said Donna J. Petersen, ScD, dean of the USF COPH and interim senior vice president of USF Health. “To my knowledge, we are the only school or college of public health in the nation that was created by a legislative mandate.”
This fall, students seeking a master of public health (MPH) degree in a virtual format can chose from six different concentrations, including epidemiology, infection control, and health, safety & environment which launched in 2013. Likewise, 11 of the college’s 25 graduate certificates are completely online.
By expanding the college’s academic offerings through online degrees, executive weekend programs, graduate and undergraduate certificates, short-courses, webinars, and other professional development opportunities, students’ busy professional and personal schedules are easily accommodated.
In the College of Public Health, “nearly two-thirds of our courses are fully on
-line or blended—involving some virtual components in order to maximize face-to-face teaching time,” Dr. Petersen said.
Of the 85 online courses offered this fall, 34 are graduate level, 51 are undergraduate level, and 11 are either new or being revamped.
“Online enrollment is up from last fall and registration continues until August 30,” said Sandhya Srinivasan, MPH, MEd, director of the college’s Office of Educational Technology and Assessment. “When compared to fall 2012, we have a 21 percent increase in the number of undergraduate courses and 13 percent increase in graduate courses offered online.”
More than 4,312 students are enrolled in USF public health online courses.
In addition, demand for the college’s online public health degree programs has exploded — with enrollment more than doubling since the middle of the last decade.
The college’s advances in distance learning have been featured in The Nation’s Health and noted in the Guide to Online Schools, which uses data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics to rank colleges with the best quality and most affordable online programs. Three of the college’s online master’s degree programs—public health administration, global disaster management and humanitarian relief, and public health practice—were noted in the guide’s annual index along with 19 other USF programs.
* * *
For the first time in the college’s history, new students attended an orientation expo connecting them with key resources at the college, USF Health, and main campus. Participating organizations included USF’s bookstore, athletics, campus recreation and wellness, as well as COPH student organizations, field experience, research, career development, and international programs.
Those who dared tested their knowledge of giving at USF with a trivia game called “Donors & Dollars.” Participants dropped a coin onto a board and depending on where the coin landed they answered questions pertaining to dollars, donors, people or programs.Examples of some donor questions are below, with answers provided at the end of this story.
1. The Greg Alexander Fund for Young Scholars in Maternal and Child Health was named in memory of:
a. A researcher in the field of perinatal epidemiology
b. A professor of public health
c. Husband of Public Health Dean Donna Petersen
d. All of the above
2. USF President Judy Genshaft gives primarily to support:
a. Health research
b. Faculty recruitment
c. Passport scholarships
3. This USF Health college has received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:
a. College of Nursing
b. College of Public Health
c. School of Physical Therapy
d. College of Pharmacy
Another orientation first was an appearance by Rocky D. Bull. After much negotiation with Rocky’s agent, he agreed to spend Thursday morning with the COPH.
“I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t know much about public health before the expo,” Rocky said. “Now I understand how your practice, your passion improves my quality of life and health.”
“Public health rocks, and I promise to come back often!”
* * *
In her welcome address, Dr. Petersen highlighted some of the top 20 public health achievements of the 20th century. “Collectively, these achievements contributed to a 20-year increase in life expectancy. In contrast, advances in health care led to a five-year increase.”
- Motor vehicle safety
- Workplace safety
- Control of infectious diseases
- Declines in deaths from heart disease and stroke
- Safer and healthier foods
- Healthier mothers and babies
- Family planning
- Fluoridation of drinking water
- Tobacco as a health hazard
“What’s great about public health is that many questions remain to be answered, and there is much work to do,” Dr. Petersen said.
“All of this equates to job security for you.”
By selecting public health as their profession and the college as their academic home, more than 700 admitted students join a diverse cadre of practitioners who promise to:
… Use our transformational research and interdisciplinary approach to passionately solve problems and create conditions that allow every person the universal right to health and well-being.—USF COPH Brand Promise
In closing, Dr. Petersen encouraged and challenged attendees, “Public health is your health and your chance to make a difference in your world. Talk to us about your dreams and how we can help you achieve them.”
* * *
Incoming class stats:
- 735 admitted students—254 undergraduates, 404 graduate and 38 doctoral students
- Graduate students represent 41 states, plus the District of Columbia, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. They hail from 18 countries, including India, Nigeria, China, Japan, Italy, Saudi Arabia, and the United States
- 76% women and 24% men (graduate)
Source: USF College of Public Health, Office of Academic and Student Affairs
Donors & Dollars trivia answers: 1.d.All the above; 2.c. Passport scholarships; 3.b. College of Public Health