Ernie Barber
Ernie Barber

School of Public Health review

The external academic review of the School of Public Health (SPH) is done and the reviewers arrived at one overarching conclusion: although the mission and vision of the School of Public Health are appropriate, the school cannot successfully achieve its mission and vision with current resourcing.

In their written report, the reviewers urged the university to review the current practice of two public health units and "engage in a dialogue about how to integrate Community Health and Epidemiology and the School of Public Health."

Four possible scenarios were off ered by the review team to address resourcing concerns: move community health and epidemiology from the College of Medicine into SPH; merge SPH into the existing department; merge both under the Council of Health Science Deans; or invest signifi cant funding in SPH that may result in a "natural and progressive realignment and rapprochement of CHE (community health and epidemiology) with the school, perhaps enabled by hard-money off ers of joint appointments or even joint leadership."

In addition to a structural review, the review team also assessed teaching and research activity in the school and noted many accomplishments in its eight-year history, as well as areas for improvement. All recommendations are in a written report recently presented to Interim Provost Ernie Barber.

Faculty members in the school were given an opportunity to respond to the reviewer's report, and they indicated strong preference for integrating community health and epidemiology into the school. The response stated they "believe that amalgamating with other units with similar interests will be instrumental in ensuring that the original vision is fully realized and hopefully exceeded."

"This review is a call to action and in order to take this action, we need a group of leaders to simultaneously review the recommendations and provide an action plan to move forward," said Barber. A task group has been charged by Barber to develop a plan by Oct. 15, 2015.

"This group will include stakeholders both internal and external to the School of Public Health, including relevant university leaders, faculty and students," said Barber. "Teaching and research in public health remains critically important to the university and we need to reach a consensus around the action required to ensure success."

The reviewer's report was made public on May 19. It and the response of SPH faculty members can be viewed at usask.ca/ipa

Jennifer Robertson is communications officer in Institutional Planning and Assessment.
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