Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences received national accreditation on Tuesday, making it the only accredited school of public health on the West Coast between Seattle and San Francisco.
The designation was awarded by the Council on Education in Public Health after a four-year review of the college’s academic programs. The accreditation will be re-evaluated after five years.
Dean Tammy Bray noted that most of the 51 accredited schools of public health in the nation are affiliated with a medical school and called the designation a validation of OSU’s quality in the field.
“We are in the big league now,” she said.
The council’s formal stamp of approval, she said, will “add credibility and value to the degrees of our students” and enhance the college’s ability to recruit high-achieving students and talented faculty members.
OSU has had an accredited public health program for some time, Bray added, but the College of Public Health and Human Sciences has only existed for about two years. It was formed from the College of Health and Human Sciences as part of a campuswide realignment of academic programs.
With about 120 faculty members and 3,500 students, including 300 graduate students, the college offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in the fields of public health, exercise science, nutrition and human development.
One of the college’s goals is to teach students to view widespread health problems such as obesity or chronic disease as multifaceted issues that require an integrated response.
“Obesity is not just a nutrition problem,” Bray said. “We all know you’re supposed to eat healthy, but some people just won’t eat vegetables. What are you going to do about it?”
The college takes a holistic approach, combining traditional public health disciplines such as epidemiology and environmental health with the study of nutrition, exercise and human development. In part, Bray said, that’s a response to spiraling health care costs.
“It’s not just individual health anymore, it’s really at a population (level),” she said.