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Last modified: Friday, June 24, 2011

IU Trustees approve the IU Public Health Initiative, work continues

June 24, 2011

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Indiana University Board of Trustees today (June 24) approved key components of the IU Public Health Initiative, an effort by the university to address pressing health needs across the state through the establishment of the state's first schools of public health.

Trustees approved a request to change the name of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at IU Bloomington to the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, and to create a new IU School of Public Health-Indianapolis at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Edwin Marshall

Photo by Hillary Demmon

Edwin Marshall

Print-Quality Photo

These components of the IU Public Health Initiative will not be enacted immediately; the vote allows for the continuation of important developmental steps, including presentations to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and the Council on Education for Public Health.

Indiana traditionally ranks poorly in major public health benchmarks, such as obesity, tobacco use, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Citing these and other Hoosier health needs, IU officials announced in 2009 plans to leverage the university's vast public health resources through the creation of schools of public health at IU Bloomington and IUPUI.

The two schools are expected to build on the strengths of their respective campuses as they further a collective academic public health agenda. In Bloomington, the school will have a rural community focus with emphasis on strengths in social, behavioral and community health-based research and practice, environmental health, wellness and epidemiology. In Indianapolis, the school will focus on strengths in the areas of urban health, health policy, biostatistics and epidemiology and on its strong connections to the School of Medicine on the IUPUI campus.

"Today's action by the Board of Trustees positions the Indiana University Public Health Initiative to make a significant difference in addressing 21st century challenges with effective solutions to complex public health problems," said Edwin Marshall, IU vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs. Marshall chairs the IU Public Health Coordinating Council, which oversees planning for the initiative.

Mohammad R. Torabi, Chancellor's Professor and former chair of the Department of Applied Health Science at the School of HPER, is serving as interim dean during the school's transition. G. Marie Swanson, associate vice chancellor for public health at IUPUI, chairs the Department of Public Health in the IU School of Medicine and is leading efforts to form the school of public health at IUPUI. Both efforts involve strategically bolstering faculty levels and specialties, and enhancing degree and course offerings to meet accreditation standards, serve the mission of the university, and meet the needs of state.