The University of Kentucky College of Public Health (CPH) has been fully reaccredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral levels for seven years – the maximum length of time possible. The reaccreditation – the first since the launch of an undergraduate program in public health – is a milestone in the story of the College marking the fulfillment of a promise inherent in its creation.
“The reaccreditation of the College of Public Health by the Council on Education for Public Health is an affirmation of the excellence practiced every day by the faculty, staff, and students of this institution,” said Dean Donna K. Arnett.
“It is gratifying to see that our accrediting body recognizes everything that makes the College an exceptional place for public health education and research.”
UK established the College of Public Health in 2004 to “develop transformative solutions to health challenges in the Commonwealth and beyond through its teaching, research, and service efforts.” The College emerged from the School of Public Health, established in 1998 in the College of Medicine. For its first decade, the College awarded only graduate degrees: Master of Public Health (MPH), Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in gerontology, epidemiology, and biostatistics. These programs targeted mid-career health professionals as well as those planning a career in academic research. The College later became the home of the UK Master of Health Administration program. Today, the College of Public Health also offers joint degrees or graduate certificates with the UK Colleges of Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, Engineering, and the Gatton College of Business and Economics.
In 2014, seeing a need to provide undergraduate students with a broad-based education in the principles of public health, the College established the Bachelor of Public Health (BPH) degree program. From the first 15 students enrolled that year, the College is now home to nearly 300 undergraduate students, making undergraduates the largest group in the student body. New for the 2018 – 19 academic year, exceptional incoming students will be able to apply to the Accelerated BPH/MPH program, allowing them to complete both the BPH and MPH in five years through the UK University Scholars Program. The BPH degree at UK is the only CEPH-accredited undergraduate degree in public health available in Kentucky.
Re-accreditation by CEPH is a lengthy process involving assessment, reporting, and a multi-day site visit by a team of academic and public health practice leaders. Evaluators reviewed all aspects of College operations including: teaching, research, student learning outcomes, alignment with the core competencies expected of public health professionals, community outreach, service, staff support, leadership, strategic planning, and fiscal resources. The site visitors spoke extensively with panels including current students, alumni, and community partners. The process is designed to ensure that students enrolling in the College of Public Health will earn degrees backed not just by the accreditation of the University by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, but also by the discipline-specific criteria of CEPH.
Underpinning the evaluation of the College by CEPH is a recognition of a sense of unity and purpose in the college. As the accreditation report notes, members of the College “who met with site visitors universally reflected that the mission statement was felt throughout the entire academic enterprise, as reflected in teaching, research, service, and corporate culture. As one constituent shared ‘…the CPH mission is baked into us.’”