Fulfilling Our Mission

March 18, 2014 | Dean's Corner

Never before has public health taken a more prominent presence in our national debate. The urgency of dealing with emergent health problems of epidemic proportions, including obesity, cancer and violence, has been intensified by the need to ensure access to health care for tens of millions of Americans. All this while we continue to debate the public health challenges presented by climate change and a global need for sustainable development.

Against this backdrop, the CUNY School of Public Health stands committed to carrying out its mission of innovative teaching, research and service to create and sustain a healthier New York City and to promote equitable, efficient, evidence-based solutions to serious urban health problems around the world.

We fulfill our mission by bringing together the best minds to public health and engaging our community of learners in the most vibrant academic environment. Employing the resources of The City University of New York, the nation’s largest and most diverse urban university, CUNY SPH seeks to create new models of public health education. The school was established as a consortium, including multiple campuses: Hunter College, Lehman College, Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center.

The school brings accessible and quality programs to students across the five boroughs of our city, offering degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels including Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Master in Public Health (MPH), Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Public Health (DPH). Through a dynamic blend of teaching, research, community engagement and service, we offer our students and faculty the best opportunity to make a difference.

During its first decade, the school will focus on fulfilling several broad, interrelated goals that reflect major current health challenges.


  • Creating a strong public health focus at CUNY
  • Fostering the development of healthier cities
  • Promoting healthy aging through the lifespan
  • Preventing chronic diseases and improving their management
  • Promoting health equity

And we’re continuing to grow.

Earlier this year, the CUNY Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a resolution, “The CUNY School of Public Health — Lease Agreement,” supporting the growth of the School of Public Health. (In the coming months, I’ll be providing more information about this effort.)

With renewed energy across all our consortial campuses, we are moving forward to achieve the level of excellence we are committed to achieve. We have received approvals for 13 new hires, including administrative positions and faculty who will be located at a state-of-the-art facility on 125th Street in the heart of Harlem. We will continue to offer the highest quality and most affordable public health educational programs in the city at all the consortial campuses and grow them even more, exploring new and cutting-edge disciplines of learning.

We are in the early phases of launching three new initiatives: an MPH degree program in criminal justice and public health in collaboration with John Jay College and MPH program in managing primary care in collaboration with Baruch College. We are also exploring new models for Global Health Education and Research that look outward to the world and inward to the culturally and ethnically diverse populations from across the globe who have chosen to start a new life in our city.

Our research success continues to grow. The caliber of our projects is making its mark in the field, and a new endeavor to create a division in Public Health Practice, under the guidance and leadership of professor Nick Freudenberg, represents concrete evidence that practice is an essential component of who we are — and what we represent.

My priority as dean is to help create a nurturing environment for young faculty, as well as create incentives for interdisciplinary thinking and productivity among the more senior and established researchers. School of Public Health faculty will benefit from two new grant mechanisms funded by the Dean’s Office to support mentorship grants for young faculty, and collaborative cross-disciplinary and cross-campus collaborations among all SPH faculty.

Students, of course, are at the heart of our mission: They are our alumni of the future, who will represent us among the public health workforce. The school started a new tradition of supporting students who have submitted abstracts to the American Public Health Association for oral presentations, and I hope such incentives will encourage even more students to participate next year. I would like to focus on enriching our undergraduate major in public health, invigorating our core curriculum at the MPH level, and providing the needed support for our doctoral students to excel in their dissertation efforts.

Here, then, are some of the innovative efforts we’re incubating at the CUNY School of Public Health. Come dream with us, help us grow and become part of our wide-ranging collaboration of students, faculty, practitioners, researchers, activists, community residents and policymakers from many sectors of the city.

As a public institution in New York City, the CUNY School of Public Health must stand out among all academic programs for its teaching, practice, expertise and commitment to the health of our citizens.

Join us in building a healthier future together.

— Dr. Ayman El-Mohandes
Dean of the CUNY School of Public Health