Yale’s Office of Academic Affairs is completing the school of public health reaccreditation process.
Jessie Cheung, staff photographer
While university officials are currently debating whether the Yale School of Public Health should remain under the medical school’s financial and administrative tutelage, new data from the school’s reaccreditation process reveals that it has grown considerably over the past four years.
The School of Public Health has achieved reaccreditation following a seven-year review process that shows growth in the school’s faculty and student population as well as an increase in faculty productivity and the quality of education. The data shows a 105% growth in the number of students between the 2017-2018 school year and the 2021-22 school year. It also shows a 23% increase in faculty and 42% in staff over the same period. The findings come as community members continue to call for financial and administrative autonomy for SPH from the School of Medicine – a possibility that School of Public Health Dean Sten Vermund has said leaders of the University would assess and could “entertain”.
“I was amazed by the results of this review,” Vermund said. “I’m really, really amazed and super proud of the faculty, staff and students and we’ve grown tremendously.”
Vermund said the increase in faculty productivity is “staggering,” with the number of papers published having more than doubled, and the quality of teaching having “significantly improved.” Vermund said that in recent years, three SPH faculty members have won best paper of the year awards for three different journals. Throughout the pandemic, Vermund said SPH has provided assistance in Connecticut and New Haven, to schools and arts organizations in California, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York.
Vermund noted that in addition to the reaccreditation process, there is an ongoing academic assessment to determine whether SPH’s current operating structure within the medical school should continue. SPH operates under the School of Medicine despite being one of the autonomous schools of the University; Associate Professor of Epidemiology Gregg Gonsalves previously told the News that SPH is the only public health school in the country that operates under the administration of a medical school.
Members of the school community have expressed concern that the current structure limits the extent to which SPH can be seen as a public health leader, and that this means the school is overseen by administrators medical schools that are not trained in public health. The University is currently evaluating the future of this structure, but this evaluation is not linked to the re-accreditation process.
“The Provost is studying this intensively and will consult with the Dean of the School of Medicine,” Vermund said.
One consideration is whether the school can survive financially without help from the medical school. Vermund noted that SPH was struggling financially in the 2020-21 school year, limiting the financial aid available to its students. Many students could not afford to come, he said. Because of those issues, Vermund said SPH received about $2.5 million in additional funding from the University last year — and also that the School of Medicine “regularly helps” SPH with funding.
“I think he’s just doing his due diligence to make sure it’s thought out and measured,” Vermund said of the provost’s assessment. “There’s no point in the School of Public Health being independent of the medical school if it doesn’t have the business model to back it up.”
According to SPH’s director of academic affairs, Mike Honsberger, the Council on Education for Public Health had granted SPH “fully accredited status” until the end of 2021 – which is why the school was ongoing. reaccreditation. Vermund said the reaccreditation process takes place every seven years.
Honsberger said CEPH visited the school on September 23 and 24, 2021 to meet with members of the SPH community and get clarification on any questions they had. Prior to this site review, Honsberger said, the school went through a self-assessment process in which it reviewed its status for various defined criteria published by the CEPH. SPH drafted responses to each of the criteria, which covered topics ranging from curriculum content to staffing to physical resources.
“The accreditation process requires commitment from administrators, faculty, staff, students and other constituents,” said CEPH Executive Director Laura Rasar King. “The board recognizes the Yale University School of Public Health’s efforts to make continuous improvements to ensure students receive a high-quality education that advances them toward their career goals.”
Honsberger explained in his emailed statement that SPH convened an ad hoc Accreditation Advisory Committee in 2020 that oversaw the completion of the final self-report, and that committee was made up of faculty, staff, of students, alumni and community representatives.
According to Honsberger, SPH currently uses a collection of student assessments, education committee reviews, classroom observations and peer reviews to assess the quality of teaching.
Vermund explained that this growth in student and faculty and research has been facilitated by SPH funding. When he started at SPH in 2017, his goals were supported by a “start-up” financial package to build on the strengths and meet the needs of SPH. He wrote that in addition to support for SPH from the University, the school has acquired outside funding from organizations such as the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Agency for International Development.
“Reaccreditation is whether we run the school’s program, so that we are approved by the accrediting body, and they are fully aware of our status with the medical school,” Vermund said. “They also know that at the end of the year, if we have a [budget] deficit, the medical faculty will support us.
Vermund also wrote that SPH has worked on other initiatives that have helped facilitate the progress seen in reaccreditation data, such as focusing on “team science,” obtaining program projects and grants. of training and the revitalization of their research centers to communicate and “extend their commitment” across the University.
The School of Public Health was founded in 1915.