Public Health Task Force Charge

September 9, 2005

Richard Myers, Chair (Professor of Biology)
Laird Bell, M.D., Cox Health Systems
Harold Bengsch, Greene County Commissioner
Charlene Berquist, Associate Professor of Communications
David Brown, Director of Field Experiences and Professor of Education
Thomas Burnett, Professor of Health, Phy. Ed. and Rec.
Dalen Duitsman, Director of OPHI, Professor of Health, Phy. Edu., and Rec.
Alex Hover, M.D., St John’s Health Systems
Robert Lunn, Professor of Management
Cynthia Pemberton, Dean, College of Health and Human Services
Sue Robinson, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy
Mark Rushefsky, Professor of Political Science
Sue Yarbrough, Instructor of Nursing
Frank Einhellig
Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs
Public Health Task Force

Thank you very much for agreeing to serve on the Missouri State University Task Force on Public Health. This task force will be chaired by Dr. Richard Myers, Professor of Biology. Special care was taken that this task force would have a broad representation of disciplines since Public Health by its very nature is interdisciplinary. It also was important to have broad representation of those that understand Public Health both from within the University and from community leadership in the region and the state.

Missouri State University has a strong commitment to provide education appropriate for many career pursuits in health care. Starting with the long-range plan of 1995, health care was incorporated as one of the theme focus areas of the University. A number of health-related academic programs existed at that time, and the University has added eleven new academic programs in health care since the adoption of that theme. New programs of the last ten years that have a definite connection to health care include (start date): B.S. in Nursing (2002); M.S. in Nursing (1995), M. Nurse Anesthesia (1996); M.S. Health Promotion and Wellness Management (1996); M. Social Work (1996); M.S., Health Administration (1998); M. Public Health (1999); M.S., Physician Assistant Studies (2000); M. Physical Therapy (2000); Doctorate in Audiology (2002). A Community Agency Counseling Option also was added to the M.S., Counseling program in 1999. Likewise, research in the health disciplines, as well as related research in the basic sciences, has grown significantly during the last decade.

The University is now at a critical juncture as to its direction in the broad arena of Public Health. Currently, there is a shortage in Missouri and nationally of well-trained public health professionals. Missouri State has established itself as a leader in public health in Missouri with the implementation and success of the Master of Public Health degree and the Ozarks Public Health Institute. While these two avenues will continue as important ways of addressing educational needs in Public Health, there is the need for focused planning for the future.

The charge for the Public Health Task Force is to:

  • Make recommendations on initiatives that should be taken to further strengthen the M. of Public Health program with the goal of increasing service to Missouri. Specifically,
    • Where should this program ideally be housed?
    • What resources should be infused into the program?, and
    • How can the program be most effectively delivered?
  • Narrow and refine what aspects of Public Health can reasonably be addressed at Missouri State University in terms of academic degree programs and research directions. Should we pursue a Doctorate of Public Health at some point in the future?
  • Explore the feasibility for the development of a School of Public Health at Missouri State University, and if such is feasible, suggest an organizational structure for this School. (Note: The Missouri State University Board of Governors recently approved the establishment of a School of Public Health, but significant movement in this direction will await input from this task force.) If a School of Public Health is deemed appropriate and feasible, questions to be considered include:
    • How would such a School fit into the University administrative and organizational structure?
    • What are the resource requirements for an accredited School of Public Health, and how might we leverage to gain needed resources?
    • What degree programs and other functions would best fit within such a School?
    • What would be a recommended timeline for development of components of a School of Public Health?
  • Explore collaborations and synergies internal and external to the University that could be of assistance in the University meeting its educational goals in Public Health.

I am asking you to address these charges and report your recommendations to me by February 1, 2006.

Again, thank you for your willingness to serve on this very important task force that will provide valuable insights for the future of Public Health efforts at Missouri State University.