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ODU, EVMS Sign New Agreement for Joint Public Health Graduate Program

Old Dominion University and Eastern Virginia Medical School have executed a new memorandum of agreement strengthening their joint master's degree program in public health to better leverage academic strengths of the institutions.

The memorandum, which was signed in mid-September by Carol Simpson, the ODU provost, and Gerald Pepe, the EVMS provost and dean, declares that the ultimate goal of the venture is a joint school of public health.

The two institutions have cooperated in graduate public health education for more than a decade, guided by two previous memoranda.

"More recently the two provosts have discussed mutual goals, and we wanted to create an agreement that will better help us realize them," Simpson said. "A joint school of public health is not something that will happen in the near future, but it is our ultimate goal. Together we can accomplish things we could never accomplish alone."

ODU will be responsible for the environmental health and health promotion tracks of the joint program under the new memorandum, and EVMS will be responsible for the epidemiology, health administration and biostatistics tracks. EVMS also will be the school of record for the program.

ODU will join EVMS in offering a generalist track in public health when the required faculty complement is available.

The memorandum specifies that the director of the joint program will come from EVMS and the associate director from ODU. Dr. David Matson, who has been the EVMS director of graduate public health education, will continue as director of the joint program. Jim English, chair of the School of Community and Environmental Health in the College of Health Sciences and ODU's director of environmental health programs, will serve as the joint program's associate director.

"Collaboration is the very essence of successful public health initiatives," said Andrew Balas, ODU's dean of health sciences. "Our master of public health program has been rapidly progressing. The ongoing national debate on health care reform highlights further needs for community oriented healthcare improvement. The ODU College of Health Sciences and the EVMS School of Health Professions are committed to building success on the tradition of collaboration."

ODU's English added, "I am very pleased that we have entered into a new agreement for our continuing jointly accredited public health program. This enhanced agreement is in the best interest of our two institutions, our students and faculty and especially for public health education in Virginia."

Balas, Matson, English and Dr. Don Combs, EVMS vice provost for planning and health professions, will serve on the joint program's Oversight Committee. The fifth member will be from the community and the appointment must be approved by both institutions.

"The mission of the joint Master of Public Health Program…is to train students in order to equip them with vibrant and dynamic public health knowledge and skills for serving health needs of populations, and for improving the public's health," states the memorandum.

The agreement calls for the program to have a single curriculum, single application process and single tuition structure. Joint curriculum and faculty committees will review and approve faculty, curricula, program outcomes and evaluation processes. Degrees will be awarded jointly by the institutions.

This article was posted on: September 21, 2009

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