COLLEGE STATION, Texas — While continuing to focus on rural public health but also broadening its role in promoting state and national public health concerns, the Texas A&M Health Science Center announced the school is now formally named the School of Public Health. It had been known as the School of Rural Public Health since its founding in 1998.
The new name went into effect just prior to the start of National Public Health Week that begins Friday (April 4).
“As before, our efforts will continue to focus on public health issues through interventions and research that impact almost all 254 counties in Texas – most of which are rural,” said Jim Burdine, Dr. P. H., interim dean of the Texas A&M School of Public Health.
The Texas A&M School of Public Health’s formal mission is to create, translate and apply knowledge in educating public health leaders, engage in public health service and research, and transfer what is learned into public health practices and policies to improve population health.
Nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top 25 graduate school of public health, the school is addressing a critical need for trained public health professionals Burdine noted, adding it is estimated that only 20 percent of the public health workforce in Texas has formal training.
With a focus on this need, the school has launched several new degree programs, including its first undergraduate program, a Bachelor of Science in Public Health (B.S.P.H.), a new Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) in Occupational Health and Safety, and an online M.P.H. degree in Epidemiology. These new offerings add to the school’s existing graduate programs in health administration, epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health, health promotion and community health services and health services research.
Additionally, more than 85 percent of the school’s faculty are currently investigators on funded research projects aimed at answering some of the most pressing public health issues facing the world today, providing tomorrow’s public health leaders with an optimal learning environment to work with top-notch professionals in the field.
“With the recent implementation of additional academic degree programs, these are exciting times for our school,” Burdine said. “Although we are transitioning into a new name that more accurately reflects our educational mission, we will maintain a strong focus on training the state’s public health workforce to better serve our state and nation.”
The Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health will celebrate National Public Health Week with numerous activities open to the public.
The kickoff event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday (April 4) at “First Friday” in Downtown Bryan. Starting at the Carnegie Library, volunteers will provide guided tours of walking trails the school was instrumental in establishing. Promotional materials and door prizes will be distributed. Also, a “Cache Dash” to find hidden geocaches will occur at the same time. A short training on geocaching will be provided at 6:15 p.m. in front of the library for those interested in learning about the high-tech treasure hunt that uses a smartphone with GPS capabilities.
On Monday (April 7), Karl Mooney, College Station Mayor Pro Tem, and Greg Owen, Bryan City Council Member, will be in the school’s administration building lobby to present a signed proclamation declaring National Public Health Week in the Brazos Valley. Also, a blood drive from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. will be held in association with the American Red Cross in the Medical Sciences Library lobby.
The school’s 11th Annual Golf Tournament at the newly renovated Texas A&M University (TAMU) Golf Course is the following day Tuesday, April 8. The tournament will conclude with a $500,000 shoot-out sponsored by SWBC Mortgage in which golfers will have a hole-in-one opportunity to split the prize with the school. All proceeds will fund scholarships for students to travel and participate in relevant workshops and conferences.
There will be two events at the school on Wednesday, April 9: a Lunch & Learn presentation on “GLBT Public Health 101” by Sydney Garner and Megan Caldwell from the Texas A&M University GLBT Resource Center from noon to 1:30 p.m. and at 4:00 p.m., Dr. Jean Brender, associate dean of research, will announce the winners of the student research poster competition. All research posters are on display for public viewing throughout the entire week in the school’s classroom building.
“Relieving Pain in the Brazos Valley: A State and Local Partnership Approach,” is the subject of the Dean’s Lecture Series and luncheon from noon to 1:00 p.m., Thursday (April 10). A panel discussion will include national leaders Michael Felix and Myra Christopher of the Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy (PAINS) as well as Darcy McMaughan, Ph.D., director of the school’s Program on Disability, Aging, and Long-Term Care Policy, and Nancy Dickey, M.D., President Emeritus of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and Medical Director of Health for All.
The final “Lunch & Learn” presentation of the week will be held Friday (April 11) at noon, and the topic will be “Texas Census Research Data Center: Opportunities for Research Using Restricted Data.” Presenters will be Drs. Mark Fossett and Bethany DeSalvo of the Texas Census Research Data Center.
The week’s festivities conclude Saturday (April 12), with a volunteer opportunity with Habitat for Humanity from 7:30 a.m. to noon followed that evening by the Annual Student Gala at Traditions Country Club from 7 to 10 p.m.
Visit the TAMHSC website to learn more about events and registration where appropriate.