GMU launches College of Public Health
College of Health and Human Services renamed
George Mason University has rebranded its College of Health and Human Services as the College of Public Health in a move to address a critical need for skilled health professionals and research across the state.
GMU announced the renaming Tuesday, following approval in late October by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and it now becomes the first and only public health college in the state. The rebranding more accurately reflects the school’s academic and research missions and reflects the role it plays in the community; it is also expected to bring more opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and expanded funding opportunities, College of Public Health Dean Melissa J. Perry said through a university spokesperson.
Perry, an epidemiologist, started at GMU in August as dean of the former College of Health and Human Services. The college has outlined key initiatives including community engagement, workforce development, research, as well as education. It includes more than 1,900 undergraduates and 1,300 graduate students, six undergraduate degrees, eight master’s degrees, five doctoral degrees and six professional certificate programs and is comprised of the School of Nursing, as well as the departments of Global and Community Health, Health Administration and Policy, Nutrition and Food Studies, and Social Work.
“Mason’s College of Public Health graduates will bring new and diverse talent to Virginia’s health workforce, addressing critical shortages and building a strong talent pipeline for the long-term health of the region,” George Mason President Gregory Washington said in a statement. “Individuals, families and communities will benefit from discoveries, clinical care and public health practice initiatives generated by this multidisciplinary and multisector college.”
The newly renamed college will focus on an inclusive approach to public health education, research and practice. More than 60% of its student body is from historically underrepresented groups and 38% of its undergraduates are first-generation college students. Given its location in Fairfax County, the college will also draw on its proximity to federal health-related agencies, health systems, policymaking institutions, nonprofit community service organizations and global health consulting management firms, according to a news release.
“As the first and only college of public health in Virginia, this launch reflects our academic and research mission and the pivotal leadership role we play in population health and well-being,” Perry said in a statement. “Our distinctive set of degree offerings, our inclusive approach to research and education, and commitment to experiential learning opportunities prepares students to thrive in multicultural environments.”
In Hampton Roads, Old Dominion University, Eastern Virginia Medical School and Norfolk State University are currently working in partnership to develop the ONE School of Public Health, the universities announced in January 2021. In August 2021, the presidents of the three institutions signed a memorandum of understanding. Under the MOU, ODU will serve as the lead institution and house the school. An institutional operations committee and a curriculum committee will have representatives from each institution.