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VCU School of Population Health becomes VCU School of Public Health

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia approves the name change as the school continues its accreditation process.

four professors standing together at a graduation ceremony Last year, the newly renamed School of Public Health became the 15th school or college in VCU’s academic enterprise. It began offering courses this past fall, with students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees. (Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

By Maggie Christ

Virginia Commonwealth University’s newest school will have a new name – the VCU School of Public Health – effective July 15.

Last year, VCU brought together four departments – Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Health Policy, and Social and Behavioral Sciences – to establish the School of Population Health, which became the 15th school or college in VCU’s academic enterprise. It began offering courses this past fall, with students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees.

Earlier this year, the Council on Education for Public Health granted candidacy for accreditation to the VCU school to begin its transition to become a school of public health. CEPH is the leading accrediting body for schools of public health, and with its acceptance of the school’s application to transition accreditation categories, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia has granted approval to change the name of the school.

“With its commitment to improving health, well-being and equity for all populations through education, discovery, dissemination and co-learning with the communities it serves, the School of Public Health plays a critical role in our robust health sciences programs and our academic health system,” said Marlon Levy, M.D., interim senior vice president, VCU Health Sciences and interim CEO, VCU Health System. “This name change is just the beginning, and I look forward to seeing its continued growth and positive impact.”

“This is a significant milestone for VCU and a testament to our work in public health,” said Vanessa B. Sheppard, Ph.D., interim founding dean of the VCU School of Public Health. “Our new name will enhance our visibility and enable us to do even more to address health disparities in our community and beyond.”

The new school was developed as part of VCU’s investment to expand the footprint of public health at the university, which is a minority-serving institution. The school is located at One Capitol Square, just steps from the state Capitol and the Virginia Department of Health, making it a prime location for its health policy research and advocacy.

The School of Public Health is the only school tied to an academic health system with a teaching hospital, children’s hospital, NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center and center for clinical translational science. VCU Health is also the largest safety net health system in Virginia, and its robust health sciences campus – with programs in medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy and health professions – offers an ideal setting for the School of Public Health’s commitment to interdisciplinary public health education.

The school was the first in Virginia to have an accredited public health program. It currently offers a Master of Public Health degree with three concentrations: applied public health, epidemiology, and cancer health equity science (the only such concentration in the nation). It also offers dual degrees with M.S.W., M.D. and Pharm.D. programs.

Transitioning from an accredited program to a school means the M.S. and Ph.D. academic degree programs will also be accredited by the CEPH, alongside the M.P.H. and dual professional degree programs.