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Message from the Dean
Interesting times are upon us. I recognize there is a lot of confusion among us about what it means for each of us personally. Some of that may be difficult to sort out, but here are a few fundamental facts that may help. First and foremost, the school and the university are both still accredited and our academic programs are not in question. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has placed UofL on probation for twelve months for failure to comply with four elements within the Principles of Accreditation. At issue is the process by which Board of Trustees members are chosen and dismissed and the implications of those politics to influence selection of the next university president.
Given that context, the school continues to make great progress. Our student numbers grew at all three levels (undergraduate, masters and doctoral). Of particular note, the BA/BS program has experienced a 43% increase from 119 student in fall 2015 to the current enrollment of 171 students. We continue to alter our curricular offerings – seeking to meet the market demands and interests of our students. Several new offerings will be in place as soon as next year. And, we are building some exciting relationships both in the community and across the state.
In terms of research, we have moved into second place among the colleges at the university in annual research expenditures per FTE faculty member—well ahead of third place. We have several priorities this year to grow our research and creative areas. These priorities include expanding the Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky (CIK) and the CIK scholars program; becoming a university-site for the Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT) -- an NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center; and making targeted investments in the following multidisciplinary areas: global health, data analytics, health disparities, health policy, health systems research, violence prevention and community-based participatory research.
While we continue to struggle with some ongoing investigations, most believe the future remains bright and we will turn the corner soon. As is the case at many major universities, fiscal realities are going to influence our near term strategic thinking. But we have been fortunate to have some excellent interim leadership and look forward to a resolution of the Board question that will immediately allow us to begin a formal search for the university’s next president who will have an exciting opportunity to rebuild many procedural functions at the university.
I personally look forward to a new semester and opportunities to meet with many of our students and alumni. Best of luck in the New Year.
Craig H. Blakely, PhD, MPH
Dean, School of Public Health and Information Sciences