State of the College Address highlights preparation for the future

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The USF College of Public Health aims to focus on the future, as highlighted by Dean Donna Petersen during the State of the College Address on September 26.

“We really need to rein in and be clear about where we’re going, what our direction is and the important things we’d like to do,” she said.


College of Public Health Dean Donna Petersen. (Photo by Anna Mayor)

Petersen highlighted all of the achievements and honors of faculty staff and students from the past year, including Drs. Michael White and John Adams of global health being named distinguished USF professors and Dr. Rita DeBate of health policy and management being named assistant vice-president for health and wellness at USF.

She also highlighted a new approach the COPH is taking in naming Dr. Ellen Daley of community and family health as associate dean for transitional research and practice, to focus on getting students better acquainted with both sides of public health—research and practice.

The first cohort of students exposed to this type of training are doctoral students from across all COPH departments, according to Daley, and have started meeting for weekly seminars.

“Even though someone may be getting their doctorate in epidemiology or in the community and family health focus area, they will understand the big picture of what public health does,” Daley said. “The idea of the cohort is to gain some understanding and greater respect for what other areas do to see the range of what public health does.”

Petersen noted there has been an increase in the number of students enrolled in the DrPH program.

“I know looking at the applicant pool for the DrPH, we are getting outstanding applicants and we’re getting more every year,” she said.

The COPH is also finalizing two new, first in Florida, programs that will be offered to students, the MSPH in genetic counseling and MPH in nutrition and dietetics, and a strengthened master of health administration program, which was fully accredited by CAHME this past year.

Other significant endeavors this year included:

  • Six COPH faculty in the Top 20 investigators at USF: Jodi Ray (1), Yehia Hammad (6), Dr. Dennis Kyle (12), Dr. Tom Bernard (13), Dr. John Adams (12) and Dr. Jay Wolfson (20).
  • 80 COPH students participating in USF Health’s Research Day including two doctoral student winners: Alison Roth of Global Health and Ngozichukwuka Agu of Community and Family Health.
  • The COPH celebrates a 10-year anniversary of working in Panama, providing study abroad experiences for students and participating in cutting-edge research.
  • The Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center has broadened its core mission to include women’s health beyond just maternal health on the occasion of its 20th
  • Archivum, the COPH’s electronic business process management system, has been used to streamline academic forms and processes in preparation for self-study and upcoming accreditation.

Petersen also took a moment to recognize the faculty and staff who have earned the CPH designation.


The COPH leads the nation with the number of Certified in Public Health faculty and staff. (Photo by Zack Murray)

“We have more certified faculty and staff than any college or program of public health in the country by far, most people have none,” she said.

In closing, she outlined three items that will be addressed in the upcoming year: investing in faculty, internal and external pressures on financial resources, and upcoming Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) accreditation.

“You are the heart and soul of our college,” Petersen said to the faculty in attendance.

Of priority for next year is increasing the average median salary of faculty to make them competitive with ASPPH’s latest Faculty Salary Report.

The COPH is also going to streamline efforts to increase enrollment and take steps to prepare for the upcoming CEPH accreditation.

“Our work is cut out for us,” she said. “But, we also set bold goals to continue to excel in our academic, research and community engagement efforts.”


Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health