The Academic Affairs committee of the Board of Trustees approved a proposal to reorganize and change the name of the College of Health Professions and Social Work in an Oct. 6 meeting.
If approved by the full board later today, the new name would be the College of Public Health. Reorganizing CHPSW would establish three new departments and eliminate two existing ones.
The College of Public Health would house the School of Social Work.
The Council on Education for Public Health, the accrediting organization for public health programs and schools, lists Temple as an accredited public health program since a Master’s degree is offered. Enacting the proposed change would mean Temple could have a school of its own.
Locally, only Drexel University has a dedicated, accredited public health school. The University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University only have accredited programs, but do not have full-fledged schools. CHPSW officials cited the University of Florida and University of Maryland, which have fully accredited schools, as examples for their plan.
Indiana University Bloomington is making a similar transition to Temple’s, according to the CEPH website.
Indiana-Bloomington is two years ahead of Temple in the process, having applied for the accreditation in 2012. Officials there gave an overview of the transition.
“Overcoming inertia was probably the biggest challenge,” said Dr. Kathleen Gilbert, executive associate dean of the School of Public Health at Indiana University Bloomington. “Some people are just hesitant to change.”
“We created three new degrees and [at one point] we had people scattered around,” Gilbert said. “We need to plug [some programs] into departments that weren’t a perfect [temporary] fit.”
Temple may have similar issues in eliminating old departments and creating new ones.
“Moving to [any new model] is certainly an issue of concern,” said Jennifer Ibrahim, associate dean for Academic Affairs of CHPSW. “But public health needs an interdisciplinary approach.”
One person with concerns at the committee meeting was Larry Kaiser, dean of the School of Medicine, who questioned how so many programs can come under one umbrella. He cited a list of programs the new school would cover including nursing, physical training, kinesiology, audiology, speech pathology and social work.
“The largest group I know is kinesiology students,” Kaiser said. “How is that public health?”
Laura Siminoff, dean of CHPSW, answered Kaiser at the meeting.
“They are … an integral part of our college and … will benefit tremendously by coming under the College of Public Health,” Siminoff said.
Gilbert agreed with Siminoff, saying transitioning to a public health school signifies a new approach.
“Physical conditioning is important to public health,” Gilbert said. “We have to look at it holistically. Our motto is ‘public health reimagined.’”
The move also opens up additional funding for the school. The University of Pittsburgh, whose graduate school is accredited, received $3.4 million in federal money that Temple was not eligible for, Ibrahim said.
“We left about $5 million … on the table, because those are grants only available to accredited colleges of public health,” Siminoff said to the trustees committee.
CHPSW is currently third in enrollment at Temple, with 4,500 students, 150 faculty, and 160 staff, according to university data cited by Siminoff.
Other local colleges making moves with regard to public health education are La Salle and the University of the Sciences, both of whom applied for program status in 2013 and 2011 respectively and have since been granted extensions, according to the CEPH website.
Jefferson established its School of Population Health in 2008, according to its website, but it is only accredited as a program and has not applied for school status, according to CEPH.
In order to proceed, Temple must provide a preliminary self-study to CEPH by Sept. 2016, after which a site visit will be scheduled.
If the trustees approve the change, the school expects to make an announcement on Wednesday.
Bob Stewart can be reached at email@example.com