Public Health gets full 7-year reaccreditation

Citing multiple strengths that serve both students and faculty well, the Council on Education for Public Health awarded the USF College of Public Health a full seven years of accreditation as a school of public health.


Dr. Donna Petersen

“We are an outstanding school of public health and this confirms the quality of our operations and our efforts in addition to the passion we bring to everything we do,” said Donna J. Petersen, MHS, ScD, dean of the College and senior associate vice president for USF Health.

“Accreditation is not just a ‘seal of approval,’ but is an indicator of quality. The very positive report we received indicates that we have a solid foundation from which to continue to build programs of distinction in all facets of public health.  I am very grateful to everyone who contributed to this achievement – from our faculty, staff and students to our colleagues across campus and our partners in the community.  This was truly a team effort.”

Among the strengths was the College’s planning and evaluation process, and student competencies.

“They found our planning and evaluation model to be particularly robust and appreciated how well we track our progress in a fully transparent manner,” Dr. Petersen said. “They particularly praised the sophistication of our competencies. To earn accreditation, schools must have a well-developed set of competencies that drive academic programs, curricula and courses.  Our system, developed over many months by a stellar group of faculty is one of the more mature and dynamic, meaning faculty embrace the concept and students are fully aware of the competencies they are developing through their curricular and co-curricular activities.”

Dr. Deanna Wathington chaired the college’s
Accreditation Steering Committee.

Concerns from the Council included increasing student retention and graduation rates and implementing consistent review processes for courses from external degree programs that substitute for joint degree students’ public health coursework. The College is to provide a report in the fall 2013 showing evidence for improving these areas.

The USF College of Public Health was created by the Florida legislature in 1984 to provide leadership for the Florida public health system through the development of academic programs and by serving as a resource for the state’s public health officials.

Since then, the College has graduated more than 3,000 public health professionals with master’s and doctoral degrees and graduate certificates, and nearly 300 undergraduates have completed a new public health minor. In 2010, the College began offering an undergraduate degree in public health. Faculty have generated more than $275 million in external research funding, and the College’s endowment has topped $13 million.

In June 2009, the 25th Anniversary of the College of Public Health was recognized with a formal resolution offered by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and unanimously passed by the Florida Cabinet. Then Gov. Charlie Crist presented the resolution to USF President Judy Genshaft and Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, CEO for USF Health.

Story by Sarah A. Worth, photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications