State of the College Address highlights achievements and honors

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For more than 30 years, the USF College of Public Health has played an active role in advancing the public’s health—at home and around the world.

On September 24, Dean Donna Petersen presented her Annual State of the College Address to faculty staff and students. During the address she highlighted the “Five Ws of the college”: who we are, what we do, where we work and learn, when proposed changes will happen and why we practice public health.

Dean Donna Petersen presenting at the Annual State of the College Address (Photo by Caitlin Keough).

Dean Donna Petersen presenting at the Annual State of the College Address (Photo by Caitlin Keough).

Petersen began her presentation by introducing the new faculty and staff who joined the COPH during the past year. She also highlighted all the achievements and honors of faculty, staff and students, including Dr. Cheryl Vamos earning the inaugural Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and Jodi Ray earning the Families USF Health Advocate of the Year Award.

Other significant endeavors this year included:

  • COPH officially adopted a new organizational structure removing the five-department model and reorganizing into four strategic areas
  • Karen Liller launched the COPH Activist Lab, designed to serve as the hub of excellence in providing interdisciplinary advocacy, education, research and service opportunities for students
  • COPH named WHO-designated center of excellence to combat river blindness
  • COPH welcomed its first cohort of Paul D. Coverdell Fellows, a graduate fellowship program awarding financial assistance to returning Peace Corps volunteers pursuing an MPH or MSPH degree
  • 17 COPH graduate students contributed to the 10th annual USF Graduate Research Symposium
  • 117 COPH students participated at USF Research Day

Petersen pointed out that USF is the first public health program in the country to provide doctoral training integrating research and practice. The PhD and DrPH students participate together in two courses, “Introduction to Doctoral Training in Public Health” and “Public Health Leadership.” This year the COPH welcomed its third cohort of incoming doctoral students.

“We combined these two programs for a variety of reasons, but what we like best about it is that it enables us right from when they arrive here to help them make the connection that the research they do in public health really has to be connected to the practice and profession of public health,” she said.

She also took a moment to recognize the faculty and staff who have earned the CPH designation as well Drs. Karen Liller and Jaime Corvin on writing American Public Health Association’s study guide for the CPH exam.

“Our faculty wrote every chapter, our faculty put together teaching materials and sample questions. It’s an absolutely beautiful guide,” Petersen said. “We also have more faculty with their CPH than any other school in the world! We want everyone to have the CPH because that says something to our students and our communities that we’re willing to be certified and that we possess foundational critical knowledge in public health.”

In closing, Petersen thanked everyone involved with making the COPH a success.

“I want to thank you all,” she said. “We are only here because of you and all that you do and all that you contribute every day to improving the health of people here in Tampa and around the world.”

See Dean Donna Petersen’s full presentation here.

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health

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