College of Public Health History

The founding of the College of Public Health blended new initiatives with long-established programs at the University of Iowa. The college’s roots originate in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health and the Graduate Program in Hospital and Health Administration, both formerly based in the UI College of Medicine. On July 1, 1999, these units were transitioned into the new College of Public Health. Today the college is composed of five departments: biostatistics, community and behavioral health, epidemiology, health management and policy, and occupational and environmental health.

The college builds on a rich tradition of public health teaching, research, and service that dates back to 1885 at the University of Iowa. Over the years, university entities such as the State Bacteriological Laboratory (now the University Hygienic Laboratory) and the Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health helped to address many of the most pressing public health needs in Iowa, including the control of communicable diseases, the safety of water and milk supplies, the health and safety of farmers and others living in rural areas, surveillance of cancer and birth defects, and emergency sanitation needs.

The training of graduates for leadership roles in all types of health care settings also has been part of the university’s commitment to public health, a role fulfilled by the four health science colleges as well as specialty training programs like the Graduate Program in Hospital and Health Administration.

The College of Public Health provides an educational and research focus to the many public health efforts taking place at the university. Building on these traditions and forging new collaborative arrangements on campus and throughout Iowa, the College of Public Health seeks to become a leading state-supported school of public health and to promote global leadership in the area of rural public health.

Notable Events

July 1, 1999  College of Public Health founding day. James Merchant appointed first dean of the college.

October 2000  The Department of Health Management and Policy (formerly the Graduate Program in Hospital Administration) celebrates 50 years as an academic unit of the University of Iowa.

June 2002  The Departments of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Occupational and Environmental Health mark 25 years as academic units of the University of Iowa.

December 2005  The University of Iowa successfully concludes a seven-year, $1 billion comprehensive campaign. College of Public Health raises $12 million for endowed chairs and professorships, student support, and other collegiate programs as part of the UI campaign.

October 2007  Iowa General Assembly approves $18.7 million to finance the new College of Public Health Academic Building. Board of Regents grants final approval to proceed with development of the new facility.

August 2008  Sue Curry appointed dean of the College of Public Health.

April 2012  The University of Iowa dedicates the College of Public Health Building, the college’s first academic home and the UI’s first academic building to attain LEED Platinum certification.

August 2014  Cooperative “undergrad to grad” degree program launched with Grinnell College enables students to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Public Health degree in five years — the first public health program of its kind involving coursework at two different institutions.

August 2016  The first class of public health undergraduate students enroll in programs leading to Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees.

February 2017  The University of Iowa successfully concludes the $1.9 billion For Iowa. Forever More fundraising campaign. More than 1,900 donors contributed a total of $40 million to the College of Public Health, surpassing its $25.8 million goal.

April 2017  Sue Curry steps down as College of Public Health dean after being appointed interim UI Executive Vice President and Provost. Keith Mueller, Gerhard Hartman Professor and head of the Department of Health Management and Policy, is named interim dean.


Questions or comments? Contact CPH Webmaster. This page was last reviewed on August 16, 2017.