From the Provost's Desk

“Exploring the Future of Public Health at MSU” report, feedback requested


Michigan State University is engaged in many research and education/learning efforts that fit a broad definition of “public health.” As I look across the University, including our efforts across the state outside of the East Lansing campus, I see faculty and staff engaged in public health and committed to assuring that environments are safer, communities are stronger, and families are healthier—with special concern for the most vulnerable. These efforts are laudable, yet are dispersed across many colleges.

MSU’s Division of Public Health, located in the College of Human Medicine’s Flint campus, is nationally recognized for its work in Flint, supported by the Mott Foundation. Embedded in the community, Division of Public Health faculty and researchers are better able to understand the assets and needs of the community while studying Flint’s most pressing public health issues.

Dr. Debra Furr-Holden serves as Interim Director of the Division of Public Health. She is also C. S. Mott Endowed Professor in the Division of Public Health and a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the College of Human Medicine. In fall of 2018 I asked her to apply her considerable experience and leadership skills to convene a series of discussions about a possible MSU School of Public Health. What might MSU be able to do in the arena of public health that will continue to improve our efforts if we were organized into a School of Public Health? Specific questions I asked her to consider include:

  • How would MSU’s School of Public Health be unique in the state/nation?
  • What advantages would our faculty, and students, have as a free-standing School?
  • What are the issues and concerns of the faculty should we re-organize?
  • What curricular changes might we be able to implement to serve our undergraduates and graduate students?
  • What might be our impact on research? Outreach?
  • How might the School better tie together the Grand Rapids and Flint efforts to the central campus?
  • How might a free-standing school elevate specific research initiatives like those in Flint?

To answer these questions, Dr. Furr-Holden assembled a Public Health Advisory Committee which engaged in six months of listening sessions across the MSU community and campuses throughout the state, from October 2018 to March 2019. Their findings and recommendations have been assembled as a report, which was just submitted. 

I welcome feedback from the MSU community on all aspects of the report. Please share your input via email, sending it to provost@msu.edu no later than July 1, 2019.

I want to thank Dr. Furr-Holden for her leadership, and to thank the entire advisory committee for their thorough and thoughtful work. Thanks also to all of those who participated in listening sessions and engaged in discussions. I am eager to receive constructive comments on the report as we continue to move forward on strengthening the public health infrastructure at MSU.