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ONE School of Public Health Initiative Meet & Greet

by Erica Howell

Inside the atrium of the Barry Art Museum is a collaborative work of art entitled "Hall of Ideas" with "Fountain of Inspiration" by Howard Ben Tré and David Small. This was an apt location for the ONE School of Public Health Initiative meet and greet, held on Dec. 6, where key players from Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, Eastern Virginia Medical School and regional health organizations gathered for fellowship and to celebrate the initiative's progress.

The ONE School of Public Health Curriculum Committee has been working hard behind the scenes prior to this event. The committee is working to align the curriculum for the core courses in the Master of Public Health degree and reviewing some of the concentrations to ensure they are distinct to prepare students for different careers in public health.

"Hall of Ideas" projected inspirational quotes onto the "Fountain of Inspiration" as Bonnie Van Lunen, dean of the ODU College of Health Sciences, addressed the crowd.

"Raise your hand if you are affiliated with Old Dominion University. Raise your hand if you are affiliated with Norfolk State University. Raise your hand if you are affiliated with Eastern Virginia Medical School. Now raise your hand if you are here to support the ONE School of Public Health Initiative."

Everyone in the room raised their hands, signifying a common goal among the three institutions and the enthusiasm behind it. A quote on the "Fountain of Inspiration" read: "The empires of the future are the empires of the mind."

DoVeanna Fulton, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at NSU, spoke about this collective enthusiasm within the faculty and staff at NSU who were tasked with working on this initiative.

"They saw the opportunity for our students and for our institution and for the Hampton Roads region, and they all drew on their expertise and gave it all they had. I anticipate this being a nationally recognized school of collaboration like no other."

The collaboration required for the ONE School of Public Health is a huge and unique undertaking, which will take more than just enthusiasm to make a reality. Don Combs, vice president and dean of the School of Health Professions at EVMS addressed the critics.

"I have talked with a lot of people who are skeptical that we can pull this off with three different institutions and all the other pressures of higher ed, and my response is... 'watch us,'" he said.

Austin Agho, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at ODU, also addressed the detractors. "Just wait and see. Just based on the work all of you have done over the last few months, there's no doubt in my mind that we will actually have one school of public health."

"Thank you all for being here," Agho continued. "This is a very good sign that we are all in fact one."

Van Lunen concluded by thanking members of the committee:

Brian Martin, Ph.D., MBA, Professor and Associate Dean for Administration, School of Health Professions, EVMS
Stephanie Ewers, Accreditation and Practicum Director, College of Health Sciences, ODU
Felicia Mebane, Ph.D. Executive Director of Public Health Initiatives, NSU
Shantya Plater, Ph.D., Accreditation Specialist, NSU
Praveen Durgampudi, Program Director, Master of Public Health ODU
Abdullah Al-Taiar, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Community and Environmental Health, ODU
Steve Becker, Ph.D. Chair and Professor, Community and Environmental Health, ODU
Glenn Yap, Ph.D., MBA, MS, Assistant Professor, Master of Public Health, EVMS

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