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Plough Foundation Gift Will Boost Accreditation Bid for School of Public Health University News
For release: April 2, 2010

For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901/678-2843

Accreditation for the new School of Public Health at the University of Memphis has come $1.32 million closer with a gift of that amount from the Plough Foundation of Memphis.  The gift is a significant portion of the School’s overall $7.75 million “Campaign for Accreditation.”

Coming from one of the initial supporters of the new School, the gift will be used specifically for “bridge salary support” to enable the University to fill, as quickly as possible, six faculty positions within the fields of epidemiology and biostatistics that are critical for accreditation.

The Plough gift will enable the U of M to fund the six positions until 2012, by which time the University will have obtained permanent funding for the positions. The University is committed to allocating funds for the remaining faculty positions that are required for accreditation.

The six positions underwritten by the Plough Foundation gift are especially critical, because those professors will provide the expertise for research within the School related to health disparities and comparative effectiveness of public health initiatives.  Additionally, those professors will train professionals to gather, interpret, and use population health and health system data.  Other expertise will include designing research studies and investigating the impact of diseases on populations, as well as the links between behaviors, interventions, and health outcomes.

“The University is very grateful for the continued support of the Plough Foundation,” said U of M President Shirley Raines, “and for this gift in particular, because it will be instrumental in helping us complete the faculty for the School of Public Health, a vital step toward enabling us to meet accreditation standards.”

Added Dr. Lisa Klesges, director of the School, “Identifying talented faculty with expertise in public health research and excellence in teaching is essential to the success of the School of Public Health.  Our mission of improving the public’s health is an extremely important one, not just for the University, but for the community, the state, and the region.  This generous gift from the Plough Foundation provides an opportunity to move more quickly to achieve that mission.”

By the time the School of Public Health pursues accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health in 2012, it will offer a full range of courses, with a minimum of 24 faculty members teaching all required disciplines and courses necessary for a degree from the School.

The School’s administration has two long-range goals.  One is to make the School one of the nation’s premier centers for research about health disparities, with particular emphasis on urban health equity and policy, environmental health, and behavioral intervention related to chronic diseases among vulnerable populations.  The other is to make the School a leading provider of highly skilled employees for public health systems in the Mid-South, by educating students so that they understand the issues of leadership, informatics, and policies in area employers.

For more information, contact Bobby A. Prince, CRFE, at 901-678-4376.
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