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UW School of Public Health Launches New Strategic Plan

Last week, the University of Washington School of Public Health launched a new strategic plan.

January 17, 2012

Last week, the University of Washington School of Public Health launched a new strategic plan. Dean Howard Frumkin began the kick-off meeting by telling an audience of faculty, students, and community supporters that 2011 was a good year for the School.

Some of the School’s accomplishments in 2011 included an increase of research funding by 20 percent, recruitment of diverse faculty, and service to communities throughout the state. The School effectively leveraged state funding, bringing in 20 research dollars for every state dollar received. Frumkin praised the School for its leadership in “breakthrough science,” including highlighting NWCPHP faculty Hendrika Meischke and her colleagues for their work studying hearing loss among construction workers.

Frumkin made it clear that the new strategic plan builds on past successes. It will guide the School through future challenges that include the decrease in state funding for higher education, stagnant federal research dollars, rising tuition, and inadequate facilities.

The strategic plan documents a renewed commitment to the School's mission of "education, research, and service" and emphasizes goals for strengthening these core functions. Activities to strengthen teaching include: reviewing the MPH curricula, hiring a new director of student services, and expanding the undergraduate program. Earlier this academic year, School leadership transferred the undergraduate program from the College of Arts and Sciences to the School of Public Health. The School has committed to doubling the program's enrollment next year. The new global health minor and PhD program in implementation science are also examples of exciting new education initiatives.

A key component of the strategic plan is its commitment to community. The document emphasizes a desire to strengthen external community collaborations through enhanced practica. Cultivating an internal sense of community through improved communications and student space is also a priority.

Dean Frumkin reminded the audience that "our battles aren't easy to win," but a sense of shared values, especially courage, will help us "make a big footprint" in the following emerging public health challenges: global environmental change, genomics, food and physical activity, health policy, implementation science, and the social determinants of health.

In the coming weeks, the planning committee will outline an implementation strategy and define key milestones and metrics. Dean Frumkin asked for continued engagement in the process and told the audience, "We've had forty great years as a thriving institution, and I couldn't be more excited to move into our next phase."

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