Benedum Foundation adds $185,000 to effort

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University Health Sciences will create five academic departments to lead the pre-accreditation phase of development for its new School of Public Health.

Alan Ducatman, M.D., who is leading the planning process, has appointed four planning committees which will guide the new school on a path toward accreditation.

In addition, Dr. Ducatman said, WVU has secured a $185,000 grant from the Benedum Foundation to assist in developing the school.

Ducatman has announced the appointment of five interim department chairs. All are current members of the Department of Community Medicine in the WVU School of Medicine, which houses WVU’s existing public health programs. WVU’s accredited master’s degree program in public health has more than 100 students enrolled. The departments and their interim chairs are:

The four planning committees include about 50 faculty representatives from across the University, including all the Health Sciences schools and the Charleston and Eastern Divisions.

Planning committee leaders (from the Department of Community Medicine unless otherwise noted) are:

In addition, several public agencies have expressed interest in educational, research and service partnerships with the proposed school, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which operates a major research facility on the WVU campus, and the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health.

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.

According to Ducatman, WVU planners and state colleagues have begun to address CEPH standards. More than 100 discrete tasks have been identified to meet specific educational, research, service and infrastructure criteria to earn accreditation. The process is expected to take several years.

The West Virginia Legislature included $1 million in the University’s 2011-12 budget to support the effort. That commitment has attracted private support for the effort 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 West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission has also provided planning support.

The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, based in Pittsburgh, has contributed $185,000 to the West Virginia University Foundation to provide financial support to the planning effort for the school. The grant helped finance an all-day retreat June 16 attended by the planning committees and other University leaders and will be used to support relationships with other agencies and successful public health schools as the planning process continues.

For more information: Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
bc: 06-17-11