The CUNY School of Public Health is committed to teaching, research and service that creates a healthier New York City and helps promote equitable, efficient and evidence-based solutions to pressing health problems facing cities around the world.
Employing the resources of the nation’s largest and most diverse urban university, the school seeks to create new models of public health education. The school’s four consortial campuses bring together students and faculty from throughout CUNY’s academic and professional programs, engaging with practitioners, researchers, activists, community residents and policymakers from many sectors of New York City—a global city that faces many of the world’s most serious health problems, yet also serves as a cradle of public health innovation.
In May 2013, Dr. Ayman A.E. El-Mohandes, an internationally recognized leader in the field of public health, was named dean of the CUNY School of Public Health, effective Sept. 2, 2013. El-Mohandes is a pediatrician, epidemiologist and academician with a deep commitment to public service. He served as dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center since 2009. He is an established researcher in the field of infant mortality reduction in minority populations, and he was supported by the NIH between 1994 and 2009 to conduct community-based interventions with pregnant women and new mothers in underserved communities.
Informed by the values of public health, social justice and democracy, the school seeks to become a platform for collaboration to:
- Examine the causes of and solutions to serious health problems;
- Engage the public in an ongoing dialogue on public health policy; and
- Develop a workforce with the capacity to plan and implement health-promoting programs and policies.
To realize its mission, the school partners with communities, nonprofit and private organizations and government at all levels to build capacities and create the conditions necessary for people to lead healthier lives. During its first decade, the school will focus on fulfilling four broad, interrelated goals that reflect major health challenges in our current era:
- Creating healthier cities
- Promoting healthy aging through the lifespan
- Preventing chronic diseases and improving their management
- Promoting health equity
In September 2006, the chancellor of The City University of New York, Matthew Goldstein, announced that CUNY planned to create a collaborative School of Public Health to open within five years. The school would have an urban focus and bring together the University’s public health programs at Brooklyn, Lehman and Hunter Colleges and the Graduate Center, as well as other faculty with relevant expertise from around the University. The chancellor designated Hunter College as the lead institution because it had the largest and oldest public health program, accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, the national body that accredits public health programs and schools, since 1972.
Since the chancellor’s announcement, CUNY has achieved several important milestones:
- In 2007, CUNY established a Doctoral Program in Public Health at the Graduate Center. By September 2010, the doctoral program had enrolled more than 95 students and had appointed more than 45 CUNY faculty members to serve in the four specialization areas offered by the program: Community, Society and Health; Epidemiology; Environmental and Occupational Health; and Health Policy and Management.
- Created new MPH Programs in Community-Based Public Health and Health Equity at Lehman College and in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Public Health Policy and Management at Hunter College to add to MPH programs at Brooklyn and Hunter Colleges.
- In June 2011, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) voted to accredit the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College for a five-year term extending to July 1, 2016.
In September 2008, the CUNY Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Kenneth Olden as founding dean of the new CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. Olden headed the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, which are part of the National Institutes of Health, from 1991 to 2005. He was the first African-American to become director of one of the 18 institutes of the NIH and has also recently served as Yerby Visiting Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science. Goldstein observed that “Dr. Olden is a distinguished scientific leader and cancer researcher who displayed an unwavering commitment to public health as director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program.” Hunter College President Jennifer Raab said: “Under Dr. Olden’s leadership, CUNY and Hunter College will be well positioned to establish a world-class School of Public Health given our strong master’s and Ph.D. programs in the field, combined with the University’s great strengths in the natural and social sciences that underlie the public health field.”
In October 2009, the Council on Education for Public Health accepted CUNY’s application to be reviewed for transforming its accredited programs in public health into a single School of Public Health. That review process began 2010 and was completed in 2011.
In November 2009, The City University of New York broke ground for a new building for the School of Public Health in East Harlem. The school shares the new, eight-story, 147,000-square-foot green building on Third Avenue between East 118th and 119th Streets with the Hunter College School of Social Work. Faculty, staff and students from the schools will work closely with community organizations and health and social service agencies in East Harlem to strengthen existing programs and create new approaches to improving the well-being of East Harlem and other low-income communities. CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College took occupancy in fall 2011. Classes continue to be offered on the four participating campuses.
The CUNY School of Public Health has hired more than 15 new faculty members who are based at Brooklyn, Hunter and Lehman Colleges. They include beginning and senior researchers in biostatistics, epidemiology, community health, health policy and management, nutrition and other fields.