The presidents of historically Black Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, and the Eastern Virginia Medical School have signed an agreement to formally establish the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first School of Public Health. The joint School of Public Health has received widespread support from the state government. The universities are now preparing to apply for accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health.
The School of Public Health will have three aims: educational, research, and service. The school will educate future public health experts by offering collaborative master of public health and doctoral programs, continuing education opportunities, contemporary teaching modalities and educational opportunities through partnerships. The school aims to improve health outcomes in Hampton Roads, which has significant health disparities among urban areas in Virginia. Average life expectancies are markedly lower than state and national averages. The disparities are pronounced for underserved and underrepresented communities.
The School of Public Health will be housed on the campus of Old Dominion Univerity but all institutions will collaborate as equals. Representatives from each institution will serve on an institutional operations committee, making decisions for the school. A curriculum committee with representatives from all three universities will define curricular components aligned with accreditation requirements.
“Collectively, our institutions produce many health care professionals who go on to work for hospital systems, health care, and government agencies in the area and across the commonwealth,” said Javaune Adams-Gaston, president of Norfolk State University. “The students who attend the ONE School of Public Health in partnership with Sentara Healthcare – a key ally and financial supporter – will not only gain the knowledge in public health fields, but they will also learn about cultural competency in public health and medicine that will allow them to promote wellness and encourage healthy behaviors amongst the people they treat and encounter. This will give the region a well-rounded and prepared workforce in the years to come. Our joint partnership shows the importance of regionalism, collaboration, and is a great example of how when we all work together, we can find solutions to address major problems that impact individuals on every level.”