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SUNY Upstate Medical University, SU to offer joint master of public health degree in fall 2009

October 30, 2008

Darryl Geddes
(315) 464-4828

Darryl Geddes

SUNY Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University are joining forces to offer a master of public health degree program beginning in fall 2009 that is the first of its kind in Central New York and the first jointly offered by the two universities- one public and the other private.

"Medicine and public policy may be taught on two different campuses, a stone's throw from each other," says Dr. Donna Bacchi, director of the Central New York Master of Public Health (CNYMPH) program. "But this degree program merges these areas of expertise to create a powerful program that provides a population- based perspective designed to prepare students to investigate and manage public health problems.

"For individuals with an MPH, the patient is the community," says Bacchi, who has been part of public health campaigns in Texas and Onondaga County. "Individuals trained in public health are leading the way to find interventions and solutions for many of our societal ills, such as obesity, tobacco use and lung cancer mortality, chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease and cancer."

Tom Dennison, professor and director of the Health Services Management and Policy program in the Maxwell School, who serves as the CNYMPH program's associate director, says the degree is especially important for those in leadership positions. "The MPH degree is the sentinel credential for public health professionals whose efforts are needed now more than ever to incorporate sound public health policy into mainstream health care," he says.

SUNY Upstate and SU began work on a joint degree M.P.H. program two years ago, in large part to address various reports-especially the Public Health Workforce Task Force report (2006)-that validated concerns around public health workforce shortages in New York. The task force report called for expanded education for public health, especially in management and training, and for the establishment of academic/practice partnerships.

The CNYMPH responds to the report by extending the capacity of both institutions in graduate education with a focus on population-based health issues from clinical and administrative perspectives, complementing the graduate degrees offered by SUNY Upstate and drawing on the expertise of the Maxwell School in public administration and public policy, the health and wellness programs at the College of Human Ecology, and the resources of the College of Law, particularly the work on disaster preparedness of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism's (INSCT), which is jointly sponsored with the Maxwell School.

CNYMPH officials expect the program's appeal to be broad, with interest coming from bachelor's degree graduates looking at careers where an M.P.H. is essential; health professionals who want broader knowledge in public health; individuals currently employed in the field who want advanced education; and medical students at SUNY Upstate or other graduate students interested in earning an M.P.H. degree after completing their current studies.

The program has been designed to enable students to tailor the curriculum to their interests and career goals, pursuing various electives in such areas as statistics, epidemiology, health services, management, public policy, ethics, law and international health.

The CNYMPH offers flexible options for both the full- and- part-time student. The program can be completed in as little as 18 months of full-time study or may be pursued part-time over as much as five years. Course schedules will be flexible and include a field placement requirement.

Graduates will be ready to assume public health leadership roles in many fields, including public health administration, government agencies, environmental health, managed care, insurance, research, education, the pharmaceutical industry and nonprofit health agencies.

Courses will be held at both campuses, and faculty from both universities will teach courses and electives. The degree will be jointly awarded.

A public information session on the CNYMPH program will be held Nov. 17 from 4- 6 p.m. in Medical Alumni Auditorium of Weiskotten Hall, 766 Irving Ave., Syracuse. For more information on the program, call 464-1700 or e-mail Information can also be found on the Web at

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