The new Brown University School of Public Health, officially launched on July 1, gives the university’s program in public health a new level of independence and the opportunity to better compete for federal funding. The program was previously part of Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School.
The schools will continue to work together in education and research, in Brown’s tradition of interdisciplinary studies across the university, inaugural Dean of the School of Public Health Terrie “Fox” Wetle said last week.
“We see this as a wonderful step forward. We’ve been working toward this goal for 10 years, so this is very exciting for us,” said Wetle, who came to the program more than a decade ago with the mission of developing the independent school of public health.
“We have worked to put all of the pieces in place. So in some ways it is a modest step, but in other ways it’s a very large step,” Wetle said.
The school continues at the same South Main Street address. And it is still working toward accreditation, expected to take two years. That would put it in the ranks of 49 U.S. schools accredited by the Council on Education in Public Health.
The new designation will open the door to compete for federal funding available only to schools of public health, Wetle said.
“In terms of our educational programs, I believe it will expand our pool of applicants to our various graduate programs and therefore improve the pool of already good students,” Wetle said. “When we talk with students who are accepted at several places and they make a decision not to choose us, one of the primary reasons they give is they want to go to a school of public health – and we will now be a school of public health.
“Another reason is we have, over the last several years, recruited faculty into our four public health departments with the promise that we were working toward a school of public health,” said Wetle.
The School of Public Health increases the capacity of what the previous public-health program and Brown’s medical school already contribute to the state, said Dr. Michael Fine, director of the R.I. Department of Health.