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College of Health Sciences
Public Health Program

Strategic Plan, 2006 – 2016

General Planning Horizon

The Public Health Program (PHP) was formally established in 2003 with three short-term goals and one long-term vision1. The short term goals are to:

  1. Develop a vigorous, high quality, well subscribed undergraduate program,
  2. Develop a well integrated high quality graduate program, and
  3. Consolidate existing strengths in public health research at UCI, identify priority areas of research activity, and establish an international reputation in public health research and training at UCI.

The long-term vision is to gain accreditation2 as a formal Program, and to evolve to School status within a ten year period. We have moved rapidly toward these goals. Our strategic plan is guided toward accreditation review as a Program within the next three years (2010) and toward accreditation review for School Status within the next five years (2012). In order to accomplish these goals, our strategy must build on our existing strengths to reach nationally-recognized criteria for accreditation as defined by the Council on Education for Public Health:

The accreditation criteria for Public Health Programs include demonstration that:

  1. UCI’s PHP and its faculty have the same rights, privileges, and status as other professional preparation programs that are components of its parent institution.
  2. We function as a collaboration of disciplines, addressing the health of populations and the community through instruction, research, and service. Using an ecological perspective, the public health program provides a special learning environment that supports interdisciplinary communication, promotes a broad intellectual framework for problem solving, and fosters development of professional public health concepts and values.
  3. PHP must maintain an organizational culture that embraces the vision, goals and values common to public health. That we maintain this organizational culture through leadership, institutional rewards, and dedication of resources in order to infuse public health values and goals into all aspects of our activities.
  4. PHP has faculty and other human, physical, financial and learning resources to provide both breadth and depth of educational opportunity in the areas of knowledge basic to public health.
  5. As a minimum, we offer the Master of Public Health degree, with at least three faculty members with primary appointments in PHP in each of five core areas of public health: biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, health policy and management, and social and behavioral health.
  6. We plan, develop, and evaluate our instructional, research and service activities in ways that assure sensitivity to the perceptions and needs of our students and that combines educational excellence with the applicability of the world of public health practice2.

To meet our five year plan of gaining accreditation for School status, PHP must also:

  1. Have an independent structure and reporting mechanism that is equivalent to other professional schools or colleges within the university.
  2. Offer the MPH in at least five basic areas of public health knowledge with graduates in each program area at the time of a site visit, or within two years of the application date, whichever comes first.
  3. Have at least five full-time faculty members who are trained and experienced in the discipline for each concentration area offering a doctoral degree and at least three full-time faculty members plus two full-time equivalent faculty members in core concentration areas offering the MPH by the time of a site visit, or within two years of the application date, whichever comes first.
  4. Offer three doctoral degrees in public health disciplines, with students enrolled in all three and a graduate from at least one by the time of a site visit, or within two years of the application date, whichever comes first.

To ensure that we are on the right trajectory for accomplishing these goals, we invited a consultant from the Washington, DC office of the Council on Education for Public Health to UCI in January 2007. Several aspects of these goals have already been realized. For example, the Academic Senate Assembly approved two excellent undergraduate degrees on November 10th, 2005: B.A. Public Health Policy, and B.S. Public Health Sciences. There was immediate student interest in these majors, and enrollment has been very impressive (more details are provided in the section on educational goals) 3. We are progressing to develop graduate and professional degree programs. The proposal to develop our MPH degree is currently under campus-wide review, and we have established a focused committee to work on a Ph.D. in Public Health degree (more details are provided in the section on educational goals).

The establishment of PHP in the College of Health Sciences has catalyzed a vigorous dialogue on public health research across campus. Through the senate review of new and existing degree programs, and through search activities to recruit faculty into PHP, there has been an essential cross-fertilization that will surely serve as the primer for consolidating existing strengths, identifying gaps in public health research, and building upon excellence. In the past two years, PHP has invited numerous faculty candidates to UCI, resulting in the recruitment of highly talented faculty members, including Professor Guiyun Yan, an internationally known disease vector biologist; Professor Jun Wu, an expert in environmental exposure assessments focusing on atmospheric pollutants; Professor Scott Bartell, a biostatistician interested in environmental health issues; and Professor David Timberlake, an expert in gene-environment interactions in public health. In March 2006, PHP hosted the visit of Dr. Roberto Tapia-Conyers, the undersecretary of health for Mexico, and that visit energized the discussion on global and international health at UCI. He is currently being considered for an appointment as a visiting professor of public health.

These events invoke optimism about the future of PHP at UCI, and the ultimate goal of establishing a School of Public Health is increasingly realistic within the time frame covered by this strategic plan. This is not to say that there are no challenges, particularly in bridging disciplines across existing programs, departments, and schools, as all successful Public Health research and education initiative must do. However, with administrative support, PHP will evolve as a highly resilient academic unit focused on excellence with tremendous potential to serve the people of California and the world.

Mission and Structure

The distinctive mission of the PHP is to first and foremost be the focus of excellence in all aspects of public health research at UCI. We aim to be the center of public health related training and service; to create a motivated cadre of public health professionals who are prepared to implement effective strategies for reducing the burden of disease and disability in culturally diverse communities, and who are primed to draw from their broad training in the global dimensions of public health principles to lead and work collaboratively on precise assessments of health risk factors and on the management of evidence-based prevention strategies.

To fulfill this mission, we are committed to an administrative structure that nurtures cooperation and innovation. The current administrative oversight of PHP within the College of Health Sciences is presented in the following chart:

Leadership: Our plan is to conduct a search and recruit an official director for PHP during 2007/2008. Currently, administrative and programmatic leadership of the program activities is coordinated between Senior Associate Dean Frank Meyskens and Professor Ogunseitan.

Administrative Structure: The demands associated with striving for national accreditation as a formal Public Health Program requires that we grow uniform strengths across five major core sub-disciplines of public health4:

  1. Biostatistics is the development and application of statistical reasoning and methods in addressing, analyzing and solving problems in public health; health care; and biomedical, clinical and population-based research.
  2. Epidemiology is the study of patterns of disease and injury in human populations and the application of this study to the control of health problems.
  3. Environmental health sciences represent the study of environmental factors including biological, physical and chemical factors that affect the health of a community.
  4. Health policy and management is a multidisciplinary field of inquiry and practice concerned with the delivery, quality and costs of health care for individuals and populations. This definition assumes both a managerial and a policy concern with the structure, process and outcomes of health services including the costs, financing, organization, outcomes and accessibility of care.
  5. Social and behavioral sciences in public health address the behavioral, social and cultural factors related to individual and population health and health disparities over the life course. Research and practice in this area contributes to the development, administration and regional jurisdictions with diverse populations of different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.

In addition to recruiting at least 3 faculty members in these core areas, we must also nurture our growth toward maintaining cross-cutting themes in public health among seven key areas4:

  1. Communication and Informatics represents the ability to collect, manage and organize data to produce information and meaning that is exchanged by use of signs and symbols; to gather, process, and present information to different audiences in-person, through information technologies, or through media channels; and to strategically design the information and knowledge exchange process to achieve specific objectives.
  2. Diversity and Culture is the ability to interact with both diverse individuals and communities to produce or impact an intended public health outcome.
  3. Leadership in public health is the ability to create and communicate a shared vision for a changing future; champion solutions to organizational and communities challenges; and energize commitment to goals.
  4. Professionalism is the ability to demonstrate ethical choices, values and professional practices implicit in public health decisions; consider the effect of choices on community stewardship, equity, social justice and accountability; and to commit to personal and institutional development.
  5. Program Planning is the ability to plan for the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of strategies to improve individual and community health.
  6. Public Health Biology represents the biological and molecular context of public health.
  7. Systems Thinking is the ability to recognize system level properties that result from dynamic interactions among human and social systems and how they affect the relationships among individuals, groups, organizations, communities, and environments.

It is important that we recruit faculty members specializing in the five core sub-disciplines directly into PHP. Our strategy is to fill the need for the seven cross-cutting themes through joint appointments with other Schools on campus.

A “Program” has a formal status within the overarching administrative structure of UC-Irvine, and we are able to recruit faculty members directly into PHP, offer formal undergraduate and graduate degrees, recruit administrative staff, and conduct formal personnel reviews. It is extremely important that we maintain PHP administrative and programmatic coherence and integrity prior to and beyond for CEPH accreditation review for Program status, which is expected to occur by 2010. Therefore, the timing of departmentalization of (or within) PHP is crucial, and there are current discussions to assess the trajectory of faculty growth in each core area relative to the sequence of departmentalization.

As part of our growth toward School status, we must, and will with the administration’s support, have a critical mass of five full time faculty members in each of the core areas, making at least 25 FTE, expected by 2012 – 2017. At that point, it is becomes necessary to organize PHP administratively through either formal Divisions or Departments representing each of the five core areas noted above.

Research Agenda

There is possibly no better time in history to develop an innovative and powerful public health research program. The PHP is uniquely positioned to take full advantage of rapid progress in the molecular sciences, informatics and communication, global environmental assessments, occupational health, human behavior, policy analysis, and international relations. These are all existing areas of scholarly strength at UCI. Our mission is to push forward the frontiers of knowledge in crucial areas of public health, to reframe and answer questions that emerge with new societal challenges, and to train a new cadre of public health scientists and practitioners versatile in the interdisciplinary language necessary to succeed in today’s world. We are committed to a research agenda that encompasses the ecological model of public health in its depth and breadth. Our current research strengths represented by core faculty member interests are focused on environmental health, infectious diseases, and epidemiology. The current call for a special competition for FTEs focused on new interdisciplinary programs and programs of excellence has made our colleagues around campus realize the opportunities represented by PHP. As of April 2007, we are closely involved in the submission of requests associated with:

  1. Urban Water and Health (Excellence Initiative)
  2. Integrating Humans in Global Change (Excellence/New Interdisciplinary Programs)
  3. Center for Asian Cultural Studies (Excellence Initiative)
  4. Interdisciplinary Environmental Health Studies (Excellence Initiative)
  5. Environmental Risks and Health Inequalities (Diversity Initiative)
  6. Biostatics Cluster (Excellence Initiative)
  7. Cancer Studies Cluster (Excellence Initiative)

In addition to these areas of strength, there are existing faculty members engaged with public health research in new and emerging areas. As PHP evolves, these areas will enrich both the degree curricula and the intensity of cross-disciplinary research in public health at UCI:

Faculty

UCIs’ PHP currently has nine faculty members (http://www.cohs.uci.edu/faculty_profiles.shtml), including seven members in the professorial series, one senior lecturer with security of employment, and one lecturer with potential for security of employment. Our faculty is currently responsible for the curriculum of two undergraduate degrees, and hopefully very soon for the professional MPH. In order to grow to accreditable Program status within the next three years, we must have at least 15 faculty members, with representation in each of the five core areas. We currently have two areas represented on the faculty (environmental health, and epidemiology) although they are not equally represented. To cover essential aspects of our curriculum, we have relied on partial support from the Department of Statistics in the School of Information and Computer Sciences, and the Division of Epidemiology in the School of Medicine. In addition, one of our courses in health policy is being taught currently by a member of the Center for Health Policy and Research. Many of our courses in Social and Behavioral Health are being covered by faculty members in the Schools of Social Sciences and Social Ecology. In order to gain accreditation, we must have faculty members in all these areas with primary appointments in PHP. Thus we have prioritized our FTE requests to fill the existing gaps.

Educational Programs

Undergraduate Programs: Our undergraduate degree programs have been overwhelmingly successful. Student applications for admission into the two degrees have increased by more than 500% in the first two years. Currently enrollment numbers for Fall 2006 and Winter 2007 are presented in Tables 1 and 2, respectively. We currently have about 100 students in these majors and our goal over the next five years is to have 100 students in each cohort, making a total of 400–500 majors. The limits on student population in the majors are associated with faculty size and optimization of instructor-student ratio, which we have placed at 15–20 students for the capstone practicum course (see http://www.cohs.uci.edu/documents/PH Practicum 2007.pdf)

There is currently an undergraduate minor degree in “Epidemiology and Public Health”, with a current enrollment of approximately 30–50 students. Students in the minor degree program are pursuing major degrees from various Schools on campus, including Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, and Social Ecology. We expect to review our offering of this minor over the next year to make decide on its continuation, or to align it more with the requirements of the major degrees.

Students enrolled in these degrees are currently referred to the undergraduate counseling office in the School of Social Ecology, for advice, and Professor Ogunseitan is the faculty responsible for coordinating those efforts. We have recently recruited a Student Advising Office (Ms. Lisa Punelli) who focuses on public health students. The public health degrees are conferred by the College of Health Sciences. Within the next year, a formal undergraduate counseling office will be established for the College of Health Sciences. At that time, the B.A., B.S., and minor degrees in Public Health will be administered entirely by PHP within the College of Health Sciences.

Graduate Programs: Graduate education is at the core of research and professional practice mission of PHP, and as an initial step, we have submitted a proposal for the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree for UCI5. The MPH is the main professional degree for public health practice, and there is ample evidence of shortage of public health professionals and training opportunities within the UC system6. Our proposal is thus timely and focuses on the areas of urgent need. Three concentrations will be offered immediately for the UCI’s MPH degree program:

  1. Cultural Diversity and Health
  2. Environmental and Occupational Health
  3. Epidemiology and Biostatistics

    At build out, additional concentrations will be offered, with the priorities being:

  4. International and Global Health
  5. Nutrition and Health
  6. Disaster Preparedness and Public Health Emergencies
  7. Public Health Informatics

We anticipate that the class size for the MPH will be 20 initially. After a successful system-wide review, we expect to advertise the degree in time for the recruitment of the seminal cohort of students by 2008-2009.

In addition to the MPH, we are in the process of developing a proposal for a Ph.D. degree in Public Health. Professor Guiyun Yan is the Chair of the committee charged with this important development. The Ph.D. degree in Public Health will begin with concentrations that align with current expertise of faculty members in PHP, with the flexibility add additional concentrations as we add more faculty and undergo review for accreditation.

Staff

It is expected that with increasing student enrollment at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and the recruitment of faculty members, there will be a crucial need for administrative staff. PHP currently has a Management Services Officer (Ms. Julie Newman) and a Budget Analyst (Barbara Thomas) to manage contracts and grants. We have also recruited a Student Advising Officer (SAO) (Ms. Lisa Punelli). As we add graduate degrees, we will need to expand our advising office. There is an immediate need for:

  1. Academic Counselor to serve as advisor and staff administrator for the degree programs.
  2. Administrative Assistant to provide support for the faculty in PHP who will also support the departmental manager, and provide infrastructure support for the laboratories.

Support Services and Facilities

PHP is currently housed in the second floor of 101 Theory Drive at the University Research Park. Research and office space is needed urgently to support faculty whose FTE are affiliated with PHP. We need space to house a student counseling office. The space requirements needed for implementing the MPH degree program is documented in that proposal4. The current arrangement works to some extent to support limited administrative functions and faculty research programs, but ultimately, a centralized location for student classrooms, teaching laboratories, and conference support need to be part of the long-term plans for space allocation to support PHP.

Interactions among students to compare experiences and to share information are important part of successful accredited PHPs that cultivate rich long-term relationships among alumni and between alumni and the university. These interactions are supported by multi-use spaces dedicated to the enrolled students. The most obvious of such types of space needs is a computer/conference room where students complete assignments, web-based information searches, and report writing. Faculty can also use such rooms for demonstration purposes in teaching. It is very important that such a well equipped space be available at the launching of our graduate degree programs.

The voter-approval of California Proposition 1D in November 2006 was good news for health science education at UCI, as the initiative included provision of $35 million for a “Medical Education Building”. The funds will support a 30,000 square feet building on the main campus for instructional, research and office space for the PRIME-LC and telemedicine programs at the School of Medicine. Part of the funds also will be used to convert several rooms on campus and at the medical center to telemedicine consultation rooms. Besides the PRIME-LC participation in the MPH degree initiative, it is not yet clear how much of the new space will be available for the students and faculty participating in other PHP activities.

To accommodate current faculty and plan for anticipated faculty recruitments over the next five–ten years, the projected space and facilities needs are as follows:

Campus Life

The UCI Public Health Association is now a very successful organization of students on campus (see http://ucipublichealth.googlepages.com/). This is very encouraging development reflecting the dedication of numerous students, staff, and faculty members to establish public health as a focal point of research education, and service at UCI. Public Health students will likely account for 3–5% of all students on campus over the next 5–10 years. Plans should be made to accommodate these students in dormitories, packing and transportation needs, recreation, and in library usage. The laboratory for instruction and research is described above.

Public Life

Public health is intrinsically a “public” research, training, and service enterprise. In many parts of the United States and the world, the successful practice of public health demands intense engagement with the community. UCI’s PHP has already embedded this public engagement in its plans, and it will only get stronger as the program evolves. The practicum course is a required component of our educational mission, and we have recruited more than 100 public health agencies and organizations to host our students during their internship program. The compendium of public health practicum sites is available online: (http://www.cohs.uci.edu/documents/PH%20Practicum%202007.pdf). Our faculty members engage in various research programs that demand active public participation, including the recruitment of human subjects. We take very seriously our role of informing public education and public policy with our research findings on the status of preventive strategies in public health.

Resources

PHP faculty engage in extramurally funded research programs, typically funded by The National Institutes of Health, The National Science Foundation, The World Health Organization, and non-profit foundations. It is expected that these research funding sources will be the mainstay of support for the research program of faculty members and students. But to properly engage the public, there has to be a “buy-in”, and PHP will have a strong fund raising profile to increase the visibility of the program through endowed lectureships, professorships, scholarships, and naming opportunities for research laboratories, and other scholarly symposia.

Additional library acquisitions will be needed to meet the teaching and research needs of PHP graduate public health program even though there are existing library resources to support public health-related programs embedded in existing faculty in Social Ecology, Social Sciences (medical anthropology & sociology), Information & Computer Science, Biological Sciences, and Medicine. We will need additional texts, monographs, and documents to support increased undergraduate and graduate scholarship, as well as new journals required by the faculty. The publishing houses are expanding rapidly to reflect the multidisciplinary and international orientation of public health. Additional resource allocations need to be budgeted to accommodate this trajectory. In addition, the public nature of “public health” means strong participation of government agencies and publications from this source must be included in the public health collection. Supplemental content from government agencies and publishers increasingly will be released as open access documents or with some library subsidy. Library resource requirements for implementing the MPH degree are detailed in that proposal.

Funds will be needed to support program advertisement to recruit new students. It is anticipated that approximately $5,000 annually will be needed for PHP outreach. In addition, as we progress toward accreditation review, we anticipate consultant fees for CEPH staff visitation. Approximately $10,000 should be included in our budget for this purpose. Incidental staff needs will also incur some expenses. As a professional Program, students enrolled in the proposed MPH degree will pay professional school fee of approximately $4,000 each. For a UCI MPH cohort of 20 students, the professional fee will generate an annual income of approximately $80,000. According to the UC Regents budget for 2006-07, 33% of the professional fee must be returned to financial aid for the students. By campus practice, the remainder of the professional fee would go directly to the administrative unit housing the degree-program, in this case the Program in Public Health.


University of California, Irvine • Irvine, CA 92697
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All Rights Reserved.

Last Updated: June 27, 2007

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