Hampton Roads universities ink deal to establish public health school
ODU, NSU and EVMS first announced the plan in January
The presidents of Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University and Eastern Virginia Medical School signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday to establish Virginia’s first school of public health.
The MOU solidifies the plan announced in January to develop a regional school of public health and address health inequities. The universities will now apply for accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health.
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.
“EVMS, NSU and ODU joining forces with a genuine sense of care for our community is so important. … As a community, with all of us coming together, we will be able to do dynamic work on behalf of our citizens with this school of public health,” said ODU President Brian O. Hemphill.
The General Assembly and Gov. Ralph Northam allocated $5 million to the project, splitting the amount evenly between ODU and NSU. Sentara Healthcare provided $4 million in grants to ODU and NSU to support the accreditation process.
“The students who attend the ONE School of Public Health in partnership with Sentara Healthcare will not only gain knowledge in public health fields, but they will also learn about cultural competency in public health and medicine that will allow them to promote wellness and encourage healthy behaviors,” said NSU president Javaune Adams-Gaston.
A search committee is in the process of seeking candidates for the school’s inaugural dean, who will be appointed by Hemphill.
The school will have three aims: education, research and service. It will offer a master of public health degree and a doctoral degree in health services research degree programs. In terms of research, students will focus on health disparities and supporting preventative health care messaging. The school plans to have service learning opportunities as well as partnerships with community organizations.
“As a region, we can no longer ignore the health disparities that exist in our neighborhoods,” Dr. Alfred Abuhamad, interim president, provost and dean of Eastern Virginia Medical School, said in a statement. “Expanding our existing partnerships in offering high-level education in public health is an enormous step forward in broadening the impact we can have on Hampton Roads.”