Augusta University President Brooks A. Keel, PhD, has announced the creation of the School of Public Health, which will be a crucial tool in helping promote the health of populations in today’s rapidly changing environment.
“As the state’s only public academic health center, it is our responsibility and our privilege to help ensure the health of Georgia’s citizens and communities,” Keel said. “At Augusta University’s new School of Public Health, students will be offered a comprehensive educational experience designed to prepare leaders who understand the important role of public health in today’s society.
“Within this new school, students will be equipped with critical-thinking, problem-solving and information-management skills that will improve health care delivery and promote public health across this nation.”
Dr. Neil J. MacKinnon, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said he is excited about the possibilities of the new School of Public Health, which will be located on the Summerville Campus in Science Hall.
“When I interviewed at Augusta University in the fall of 2020, it struck me very odd that we are Georgia’s only public academic health center and we don’t have a school of public health,” said MacKinnon, who himself is a former director of the Center for Rural Health and faculty member at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. “This school will be a tremendous addition to Augusta University.”
Augusta University will soon launch a search for a founding dean of the new School of Public Health. The target formation of the new school is July 2023.
MacKinnon said the new School of Public Health will better focus all of the university’s current efforts into a united goal. Augusta University is home to the Institute of Public and Preventive Health (IPPH), the Center for Rural Health and the statewide Area Health Education Centers (AHEC). The College of Allied Health Sciences offers a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree and PhD in Applied Health Sciences, while the Medical College of Georgia’s Department of Population Health Sciences houses multiple graduate programs and the College of Education offers a health promotion undergraduate program.
“We’ve got those incredible foundation pieces,” MacKinnon said. “With this new school, we’re interested in research growth and, in public health in particular, and the community outreach part is so critical. We are truly excited about the future possibilities.”
Augusta University will be notifying the national accreditation body for public health education of the university’s intention to create the new school and a town hall for impacted faculty and staff will take place June 1. Additional details about the new school will be shared in the coming weeks.