UH School of Public Health fell victim to budget cuts


POSTED: Sunday, March 01, 2009

Question: Whatever happened to the University of Hawaii School of Public Health?


Answer: The first public health faculty member hired at the University of Hawaii after its School of Public Health was closed in 1999 because of budget cuts is working toward re-establishing the school.

“;I think we can get there again,”; says Jay Maddock, director of the Office of Public Health Studies and Population Studies in the John A. Burns School of Medicine. “;It is so important to Hawaii and certainly the Pacific.”;

Citing funding problems, then-UH President Kenneth Mortimer closed the public health school and folded it into the medical school despite strong protest from graduates, faculty members and health officials with school ties here and overseas.

A legislative resolution last year proposed re-establishing an independent public health school by 2012.

The UH Manoa chancellor and vice chancellor for research champion “;a strong research and educational program in public health,”; said Dr. Jerris Hedges, dean of the medical school.

However, the state's economic plight “;raises considerable challenges”; to re-establishing the public health school at this time, he said. Another approach is “;a broader vision”; that blends the medical school and public health programs “;into an entirely new dimension,”; he said.

A School of Public Health is needed now more than ever, said Nancy Partika, a school alumnus and one of Maddock's 20 faculty members, and John Casken, formerly with the defunct school, now with the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene. They said Maddock is “;doing a great job”; and making progress despite adverse conditions.

Using an incremental approach that “;focuses on quality,”; Maddock has developed three of five departments required for an accredited public health school and is working on the others. About one-third of public health students are international and he has started exchange programs with public health schools in China.

“;In its heyday it was really an international School of Public Health, with people coming here from all over the Pacific Rim and Southeast Asia,”; said James Rarick, Hawaii Public Health Association president, stressing the need for such a school again in the region.


This update was written by Star-Bulletin reporter Helen Altonn. You can write us at What Ever Happened to… Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana, Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4747; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).