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Sunday, Dec. 10
The Indiana Daily Student


School of Public Health moves forward with accreditation

No longer will students graduating from HPER need to explain what the name, pronounced “hyper,” stands for.

On Sept. 28, the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation will officially be renamed the School of Public Health, although Interim Dean Mohammad Torabi said the transition is more than just a name change.

“Now, we will have a broader mission,” Torabi said. “It will make a difference for the health and wellbeing of our fellow Hoosiers and nation.”

It will mean a focus on rural health issues, general wellness and other areas that build on the existing missions of the school.

Indiana ranks 46th for overall wellbeing, 49th for healthy behaviors, 39th for physical health, 42nd for life evaluation, 43rd for emotional health and 45th for life quality, according to a Gallup-Healthways survey.

“Indiana traditionally ranks poorly regarding major public health benchmarks, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” IU President Michael McRobbie said in a press release. “While there are no simple solutions for these societal challenges, I believe the existence of strong and engaged schools of public health in Indiana would be a major step in the right direction.”

The Association of Schools of Public Health estimated 250,000 more public health workers will be needed by 2020. Torabi said IU’s School of Public Health will be a public service because it will contribute to the demand for workers and to risk prevention.

“Some time ago, the leading cause of death was infectious disease, but that has changed to chronic disease, many of which are related to lifestyles,” Torabi said. “The population will be a winner as a result of the School of Public Health.”

Torabi said prevention is just as important as medicine.

“We’re not replacing the need for medical school,” he said. “We’re complementing it.”

While a master of public health program already exists, the transition will mean developing the current departments to offer additional degrees for undergraduate and doctoral students. There will be five main areas of study: behavioral, social and community health, biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology and public health administration.

In addition to the doctoral program in health behavior, degrees will be offered in epidemiology and environmental health.

“I encourage incoming students to consider the School of Public Health in Bloomington,” Torabi said. “When you study public health, you need to address your own lifestyle first. Making a change in yourself and in the community comes with a great sense of accomplishment.”

Although the Council on Education for Public Health has approved IU’s request to begin the accreditation process, it might take up to two or three years to complete.
“The Council on Education for Public Health’s recent action represents a significant milestone in IU’s progress toward establishing an accredited school of public health and will allow IU to mobilize and leverage existing resources to address critical public health problems in the state,” said Edwin Marshall, chairman of the IU Public Health Coordinating Council.

The process will include strategically bolstering faculty levels and specialties and enhancing degree and course offerings to meet accreditation standards.

“It will be a long journey to reach,” Marshall said, explaining that the process, which started two years ago, includes self-studies and site visits. “But all the ingredients are here. Incoming students will graduate with a degree from the School of Public Health, as well as some current students.”

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