Saturday, June 19, 1999

UH set on letting
health school die

Despite testimony, a petition
and high-level lobbying, the
School of Public Health will
likely be eliminated

By Susan Kreifels


They keep coming with testimony against shutting down a school that helps the community, especially the poor and indigenous people.

Doctors, community health workers, alumni, students. A petition of 1,718 signatures. Even acting Gov. Mazie Hirono is questioning the move.

But the University of Hawaii Board of Regents asks few questions, offers few comments to those who testify.

The university administration seems determined to shut down the UH School of Public Health and make it an accredited master's degree program within the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

At their meeting yesterday, regents did approve an agreement between the school, which will lose its accreditation next June, and the state Department of Health for an exchange of faculty and students. But approval of the pact, which public health supporters had hoped would save the school's accreditation, came too late.

Ten people testified in support of the school. The school's interim dean, William Wood, who met with the accreditation team earlier this month, said the team would reconsider its decision if support for the school was mustered by their next meeting in September.

But UH Senior Vice President Dean Smith said the accreditation team told him the discussion was over.

Wood said the UH School of Public Health was the only one in the country ever to lose accreditation.

Regent Nainoa Thompson disagrees with the decision to close the school.

An advocate of improving community health, especially in the Hawaiian community, he said he believes the university has an obligation to keep the school open, and believes it's not too late to save it.

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