Dr. Charles Mahan named 2021 ASPPH Welch-Rose Awardee

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USF College of Public Health’s (COPH) Dr. Charles Mahan, former dean and professor emeritus of the COPH, will be honored with the 2021 ASPPH Welch-Rose Award for academic public health service.

The ASPPH Welch-Rose Award recognizes the highest standards of leadership and scholarship in public health and honors individuals who have made significant lifetime contributions to the field of public health.

Mahan will be presented with his award during the virtual 2021 ASPPH Annual Meeting on March 23-25, where he will also be one of the plenary speakers.

Charles Mahan, MD (Photo courtesy of USF Health)
Charles Mahan, MD (Photo courtesy of USF Health)

Mahan is being recognized for his contributions as a physician, educator, leader, advocate and lifelong champion of public health, both academically and in practice. Mahan is also known for professionalizing public health by creating the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) and the Certification in Public Health (CPH) exam.

After earning his medical degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and completing an OB/GYN internship and fellowship, Mahan joined the medical school faculty at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and later at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla.

 In 1982, Mahan was recruited to serve as Florida’s Title V maternal and child health director in Tallahassee, and from 1988-1995 he served as the state’s health officer.

In 1995, Mahan became the second dean of the COPH and threw himself into ASPPH work, including serving on the Council for Education in Public Health, an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of public health, public health programs and outside schools of public health

Envisioning a more respected workforce, one recognized for its professionalism and academic enterprise, Mahan began discussions with then-APHA president Mohammad Akhter and the late ASPPH president Harrison Spencer. They collaborated on ways the academic and practice communities could come together to professionalize the field. Together they created the NBPHE, similar to the medical boards with which they were all familiar.

NBPHE was established in 2005 as an independent organization, the purpose of which is to ensure that public health professionals have mastered the foundational knowledge and skills relevant to contemporary public health. Over 10,000 individuals have sat for the exam, earning their CPH.

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health