Tuesday, January 19, 1999 / 3 p.m. / 820th Meeting
Members Present: Drs. Steven Knapp, James Anthony, Robert Black, John Breitner, Diane Griffin, John Groopman, Bernard Guyer, Robert Lawrence, Ellen MacKenzie, Jonathan Samet, Alfred Sommer, Donald Steinwachs, James Yager, Scott Zeger and Barry Zirkin; and Ms Robin Fox, staff.
Members Absent: Drs. William Brody and Roger McMacken.
Guests: Dr. Sharon Krag and Mr. Herbert Hansen. Provost Steven Knapp convened the meeting at 3:00 p.m.
Approval of the Minutes: Minutes of the 819th meeting on December 22, 1998 were approved.
Remarks by the Provost: Provost Knapp welcomed Dean Sommer back from his extended research trip. Dr. Knapp announced that the University has successfully recruited the new director of governmental affairs who will coordinate federal relations and health affairs for the University and for the Health System. Mr. Thomas Etten, currently at the University of Minnesota, will join the University in March. Ms. Janet Sanfilippo has joined the governmental affairs office to focus on local relations. The governmental affairs office will speak on behalf of the University and Health Systems with one voice. Dr. Knapp noted that almost every search at the University level has been completed.
Remarks by the Dean: Dr. Sommer thanked Dr. Lawrence for his extra efforts as acting dean during Dean Sommer's absence. He then reviewed several acute issues facing the School, including a small decline in projected general funds revenues as a result of decreasing tuition income. He noted that the declines will affect general funds for 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, but that prompt action to increase tuition in 1999-2000 will help for general funds allocations in 2001-2002.
Members of the Advisory Board provided several suggestions to increase tuition income, and felt that special efforts should be made to increase the proportion of admitted applicants who enroll. While the School will continue to make strategic determinations for its overall goals, action taken quickly will at this point will make a difference for future years. Dr. Lawrence commented that several departments have expressed interest in promoting their MHS programs to persons contemplating service in the Peace Corps, and that he will provide further information to the Peace Corps on behalf of the School.
Remarks by the Faculty Senate: Dr. Anthony reported that the Faculty Senate is fully supportive of the CEPH Self Study. The Senate was also supportive of changes to the academic calendar as proposed by Dr. Breysse, chair of the Committee on Academic Standards. The Senate has formed a subcommittee in response to concern expressed by the Department of Population and Family Health Sciences regarding review of protocols involving social science research. The Subcommittee will report back to the Senate at a later date.
Report from the Ad Hoc Committee on Basic Science and Public Health Dr. Barry Zirkin described the purpose of the committee convened to address the contributions and increased coordination of basic sciences within the School. The committee met several times during 1998. The three major questions raised by the Committee included: why should laboratory sciences exist in a school of public health; how can the current lab science areas be strengthened and further integrated; and how can the laboratory sciences be more broadly integrated into the fabric of the school, in particular into non-laboratory science areas.
The committee felt that laboratory sciences are core to public health, but may need to better articulate their contributions. Dr. Zirkin noted that laboratory science information is sought out by the public due to its direct impact on health, for example the Human Genome Project. In addition to carrying out laboratory science investigations, they can also help interpret their findings to non-laboratory science colleagues and to the public. However, laboratory scientists must stay current in order to stay viable.
A number of efforts are underway to better integrate and coordinate education of laboratory scientists in the School, including: a core discussion group for SHPH students taking courses in the SOM; joint student recruitment across the School laboratory science departments; and Dean's Office support of a laboratory science student-led seminar series.
Dr. Zirkin then suggested a number of mechanisms to better integrate laboratory and non-laboratory science groups which focussed on providing students with grounding in genetics, biology and quantitative sciences, for example, a program in "public health biology", which might focus on biology and quantitative sciences. A master's degree in genetics or biology might be directed toward post- doctoral fellows trained in epidemiology or biostatistics. Conversely, a masters's degree in biostatistics or epidemiology might be appropriate for laboratory-trained post-doctoral fellows. A number of other mechanisms were suggested to educate students in both laboratory and non-laboratory sciences.
A plan for a PhD jointly offered by the laboratory science departments was not as enthusiastically received by the Committee due to difficulties in mounting interdisciplinary programs in areas that are by nature in depth. Some faculty commented that students with degrees in both quantitative and laboratory sciences (e.g., in epidemiology and in molecular genetics) would be at a competitive advantage in seeking positions. Dr. Zeger noted that the doctoral students in other departments who have also completed an MHS degree in Biostatistics are highly desirable. Students in a training program in quantitative genetics may also find a double degree program fitting. After further discussion, Dr. Sommer thanked Dr. Zirkin and the Committee for their efforts.
He recognized new activities now undertaken by the laboratory science departments such as joint student recruitment efforts and consideration of dual degree programs. The report and comments of the Committee will form part of the background for strategic planning efforts that will be undertaken in several months. He thanked the faculty in the laboratory science groups and departments in the School for working together so productively, and commented that in the future they will be able to work together even more strategically.
In response to a question from Dr. Knapp, Dr. Zirkin commented on the differences between the questions addressed by laboratory science groups in the School of Public Health compared to laboratory science groups in Arts and Sciences or in Medicine. He noted that the major differences are in the ways questions are identified and framed, and that answers may be applied to population-based problems. Dr. Yager added that the focus in the School is on prevention and intervention, and at different aspects of a disease process, rather than strictly at uncovering biologic processes and mechanisms.
Self Study of the Department of International Health Dr. Black introduced the Self Study of the Department of International Health, noting that it contains three administrative divisions, as well as five academic tracks, and seven centers or institutes, which are not restricted to divisional boundaries. He reviewed the mission of the Department, which is committed to the underserved and vulnerable populations of the world, in both developing and developed countries. The Department has taken an interdisciplinary and problem-solving approach, involving collaboration with almost every department in the School as well as many in the School of Medicine.
Dr. Black then reviewed several target "areas of excellence" around which the academic tracks have been developed. Some of the areas are recognized both internally and externally, while others are not as well recognized. He noted that each of the academic tracks has recently completed or is now engaged in review and refinement of their academic program, with the exception of the Health Systems Management track.
Dr. Mathu Santosham has just been recruited to direct the Division of Health Systems and the faculty in that division can now review their academic program. Dr. Black commented on some of the strengths of the Department, which include its diverse research funding and resources, its improving academic programs, its large and distinguished faculty, and its excellent student pool. Areas for improvement include strengthening the health systems management area, seeking more training grant support for students, and improvement in intra- an interdepartmental communications.
Dr. Black noted that the Self Study poses broad questions not only for the Department, but also for the School as a whole. Many interesting and diverse international opportunities exist where the School is uniquely positioned to respond (e.g., distance education), but the School should determine how to best organize around these issues and decide which issues should be priorities. In response to a question from Dr. Lawrence on the possibility of interdepartmental academic programs in community health, Dr. Black remarked that community health is an area that cuts across many departments, each of which may have a different role. With regard to interdepartmental educational programs, Dr. Black noted that there have been few successful models in the School although joint teaching and dual degree programs offer possibilities to increase collaboration in the academic programs among departments. Dr. Knapp asked if the Department collaborated with JHPEIGO, and Dr. Black responded that he had worked with them to bid on some large USAID projects and anticipated working with them in the newly-awarded Maternal and Neonatal Health Program funded by USAID. After further discussion, Dr. Knapp thanked Dr. Black for presenting the Self Study.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:30 p.m.
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