Will continue planning, accreditation process

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Alan M. Ducatman, M.D., M.Sc., chair of the Department of Community Medicine in the West Virginia University School of Medicine, has been named interim dean of the planned WVU School of Public Health.

“I’m very pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Ducatman to this position,” said Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., chancellor for health sciences. “This formalizes and recognizes the work that Alan has been performing for most of the past year. His outstanding leadership in developing the case for creating the school, securing support from faculty members and others across the University, and organizing the many resources required to apply for and achieve national accreditation have moved us quickly toward the formation of a school. He and I have agreed that in early January, we will initiate a formal national search for the founding dean.”

Ducatman is recognized nationally for his expertise on environmental hazards. He was recruited to WVU in 1992 to lead the University’s Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health. He has chaired the community medicine program since 1996. An energetic clinician and researcher, he is the author of dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles and book chapters and has provided assistance to communities, government agencies, courts and others in the evaluation and assessment of health risks associated with environmental hazards and industrial operations.

“West Virginia needs to improve its health profile in many ways,” Ducatman said. “West Virginians deserve the kind of ‘elbow grease’ community intervention and health data work done within a School of Public Health. West Virginia University will contribute even more to improve the health profile of the state when this is in place.”

The interim dean said that the recent WVU Strategic Plan listed the School of Public as a high priority. “The support we have received from the WVU administration at all levels and from the vision of our legislative leaders is gratifying,” he said. “This is possible because of an active faculty committed to their research, teaching and improving the competitive position of the state in health affairs.” 

Under his leadership, WVU has expanded public health course offerings, degree programs and enrollment within the School of Medicine. WVU’s accredited Master of Public Health Program has more than 100 students enrolled.

Ducatman is a graduate of the Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed postgraduate training at Brown University and the Mayo Clinic. Prior to joining WVU, he served as director of the Environmental Medical Service of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as director of the Professional Occupational Health Branch, United States Navy Environmental Health Center.

The West Virginia Legislature included $1 million in the University’s 2011-12 budget to support the effort to start the School of Public Health.

That commitment has attracted private support as well, including a $1 million gift in May – expected to be matched by the state’s “Bucks for Brains” fund – that established the Stuart M. and Joyce N. Robbins Distinguished Professorship in Epidemiology. The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, based in Pittsburgh, contributed $185,000 to the WVU Foundation to provide financial support to the planning effort for the school, matched by $10,000 from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

The University’s goal is to achieve accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), a national organization that sets the standards for both undergraduate and graduate programs in the public health professions.

For more information: Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
bc: 08-02-11