State of the College Address: We don’t tone things down!

| Monday Letter, Our People

Just one year past its 30 year anniversary, the College of Public Health continues to kick things up a notch, as Dean Donna Petersen showed during her State of the College Address on October 13.

Dean Petersen SOCA

COPH Dean Donna Petersen

From moving up five spots to number 16 in the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings to an expanding global reach, the COPH continues to meet its goals.

Petersen discussed how overall non-federal funding is on a rise and that six COPH investigators rank in USF’s top 25 including: Jodi Ray (4), Dr. John Adams (7), Dr. Yehia Hammad (12), Dr. Dennis Kyle (20), Dr. Tom Bernard (21), and Dr. Jay Wolfson (25).

“A number of the faculty have been taking their research and applying them immediately,” Petersen said, in regard to the COPH’s goal of translating translational research.

Other significant endeavors this year included:

  • A perfect 10 scoring from the National Institutes of Health for a grant to identify a brain-eating amoeba.
  • Receiving the nation’s largest Navigator grant, 5.9 million dollars, to continue leading the nation in total number of people enrolled in health care coverage.
  • Grants to support the eradication of river blindness in Zambia, Cambodia and Haiti.

Petersen noted that outreach efforts have also expanded globally with 55 faculty and students conducting research in 17 different countries.

The number of students admitted this past year also increased, particularly, the COPH’s DrPH degree, which moved up from seven to 19 enrolled students for the fall semester.

“This fall we had a huge increase in applications for the DrPH program, we couldn’t believe it,” Petersen said. “We admitted more than twice the number than we admitted last fall. We are extremely excited about that program.”

Petersen also took a moment to recognize new staff and faculty to the COPH and highlighted the COPH’s new approach to recruiting faculty members.

“We did something different this year; for the first time in our history, we recruited a cohort of new folks,” she said. “We got together and we came up with common criteria; things like people who like interdisciplinary research, who aren’t afraid of team teaching, and who like being engaged out in the community; all these things that are extremely important to us.”

The COPH’s transformed master of public health core curriculum saw an increase in the number of enrolled students, moving up to 43 total students.

COPH Students

In July, the first group made their final presentations for their community-based projects before moving on to the concentration coursework.

The graduation trend is also upward for bachelor’s and master’s degrees the COPH has awarded.

“We’ve been able to really build our portfolio, support our faculty, and recruit great students and fantastic staff,” Petersen said.

The COPH is also on the forefront of embracing new technologies.

Petersen unveiled the COPH’s involvement with Appian, a cloud-based software the College is utilizing to streamline the student advising experience. The COPH will work with its faculty and students to utilize this new app and provide feedback on areas of improvement to USF’s Health Information Systems, with whom the COPH has partnered to run the pilot test.

The COPH is the first college in USF to pilot this program.

“This is really going to simplify faculty life,” John Petrila, professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management, said. “Instead of shuffling paper around, having to be at the office to complete a task, you can log on from anywhere with minimal effort and move on to something else for your day; you can find a list of all your advisees, you can fill out check sheets online. I believe it will revolutionize the way we spend our time at work.”

The COPH will also launch two new degree programs including one in nutrition and an interdisciplinary MSPH degree program with the Morsani College of Medicine in genetic counseling.

“We believe we have all the elements in place to create a really dynamic and wildly cutting edge degree program here and we hope to be enrolling students next fall,” Petersen said.

While there are new obstacles the COPH will face in the coming years, including shifting state funding models and a CEPH re-accreditation site visit in 2018, Petersen remains confident in the COPH’s ability to achieve its goals.

“We’ve got much to look forward to; this is a strong college,” she said. “We have outstanding people, outstanding facilities, outstanding vision, and you are all what makes this college wonderful. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do to contribute to the College and its reputation, how you invest in the community, and how you really practice your passion and devotion to public health.”

Related media:
SOCA Presentation Slides

Story and photo by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health