New public health Ph.D. program approved for UWM

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents approved a new doctoral program in public health that will be offered at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The public health Ph.D. program features a concentration in community and behavioral health, and was approved by the regents during their meeting at the University of Wisconsin-Superior on April 13.

The program is the second doctoral program offered through the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, established in 2009, and the 33rd doctoral program at UWM.

“This is another key milestone for the growing Zilber School as we move toward national accreditation,” said Magda Peck, dean of the school. “Our Ph.D. students will be well -prepared scientist-practitioners, able to lead interdisciplinary research and work closely with diverse populations and communities to address the most pressing public health issues.”

“Interest in this program has been strong since the school was founded,” said Lance Weinhardt, professor of public health. “Demand for trained public health professionals is high in local, state and federal government, academia, and within nongovernmental and community-based organizations.” The program is now accepting applications for fall 2012 enrollment.

Paul Florsheim, associate professor of public health, and Dean Peck presented the proposed doctoral program to the Board of Regents at the Superior meeting.

In seeking approval from the board, Zilber School faculty cited the school’s strength and depth in the areas of social and behavioral health sciences, as well as in associated departments such as communication, psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography, health sciences, nursing, educational psychology and social welfare.

Administrators also noted the strong foundation provided by the university’s existing collaborative research programs and centers in social and behavioral science. These include the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Research, the Center for Urban Initiatives and Research, the Center for Urban Population Health, the Center on Age & Community, and the Institute for Urban Health Partnerships.

The program will offer options for both full- and part-time students, with some required courses offered in the evenings.

Students entering the program will be trained at the graduate level in a social ecological approach to health promotion and behavior change from a public health perspective, according to a program description. Coursework and research will focus on community engagement, survey and measurement methodology, design and evaluation of health promotion programs, research design and statistics. Students will also have exposure to other key areas of public health (environmental health, epidemiology, biostatistics, and policy and administration), which will allow them to be integrated into the broader public health profession after graduation, according to the program description.

In other actions related to UWM, the Board of Regents approved the university’s request for authority to release enumerated funds to purchase the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health building using $12 million in Program Revenue Supported Borrowing. Also approved was a request for authority to lease space for the School of Freshwater Sciences and the College of Engineering & Applied Science.