New Undergraduate Major and Minor Program Offered in Public Health

March 16, 2017

Author: Kaitlin Luna

Gallaudet University has approved a new undergraduate major and minor program in public health. The new program will accept its first students in the Fall of 2017.

Public health is a science concerned with protecting and promoting health in individuals, families, communities and entire populations through such measures as disease prevention, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research on epidemics and infectious diseases. The major will prepare students to work in several health-related fields or enter graduate or professional school. The minor is designed to increase awareness and understanding of public health principles among students preparing for careers in other fields such as physical education and recreation, social work, business, medicine, or psychology. The program will be housed under the Department of Science, Technology & Mathematics (STM).

The establishment of the program is the result of a report released in 2012 by the Task Force on Health Care Careers for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The task force was established in 2010 with members from four partnering institutions: Gallaudet University; the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, a college of the Rochester Institute of Technology; University of Rochester Medical Center; and Rochester General Health Systems, as well as individual representatives. After months of research, focus groups, and personal interviews, the Task Force’s report found that while there were many potential opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people in health-related careers, educational challenges, attitudinal perceptions, and access costs remained barriers.

After the Task Force released its findings and recommendations, former Gallaudet President T. Alan Hurwitz tasked Gallaudet’s STM department with exploring options for establishing healthcare majors at the University. Thus, the Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) major and minor program was established.

“Our research showed that a BSPH degree and minor in public health would complement our existing programs, be of interest to many of our prospective students, could result in graduates who have skills sought by many private and public employers, and would dovetail with the recently completed renovations of existing laboratory and classroom facilities in the STM department,” said STM Department Chair Dr. Kathleen Arnos.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the growth in the number of jobs in public health will increase 21 percent through 2022, faster than the average for all other professions. This provides an excellent opportunity to leverage the mission of Gallaudet University to provide diverse, well-prepared graduates with degrees in public health who will provide diverse perspectives in the workplace for in-demand careers,” said Dr. Genie Gertz, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Public health provides a clinical component which complements the professions that many of our students choose and it gives Gallaudet graduates an advantage in competing for anticipated job-growth in a variety of health fields.”

“Gallaudet is constantly evolving its programs to ensure that we are best preparing our students to be leaders in their respective fields,” said President Roberta J. Cordano. “Gallaudet has a long history of producing innovators and change-makers who bring to the world their expertise in a given field, and also their much-needed diverse perspectives to the workforce and to research. I applaud the work of the STM department, as well as faculty and staff from all over the University, for their work in establishing this new and exciting program for our students.”