New challenge for Morgan State Public health school: Planning grant will allow university to investigate new mission.

September 23, 1996

IT IS GOOD to see the cooperation that Morgan State University's quest to create a school of public health has received from Johns Hopkins University. Their collaboration is essential to making the dream a reality. But the task before Morgan is arduous.

This nation's shift from traditional medical practice to managed care, emphasizing treatment of populations rather than individuals, has led to the creation of a number of new public health schools. But many are departments of existing schools of medicine, something Morgan doesn't have. The university has to figure out how it can take on this new mission.

A two-year, $264,000 planning grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation will help it to do that. Morgan may never rival the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, with its 10 departments, 300 faculty members and $150 million budget. But Morgan can develop an entity that complements Hopkins and, more important, adds to the resources available to tackle urban health issues in cities such as Baltimore.

There is more than enough work to go around. America's big cities are plagued by public health concerns -- low-birthweight babies, AIDS, the homeless mentally ill, substance abuse, teen violence, lapses in childhood immunization, care for the elderly. A university such as Morgan, whose population substantially includes men and women who grew up amid such urban problems, is an ideal place to recruit students who want to return to their communities and help find solutions.

It will be exciting to see what Morgan develops during this initial planning stage. It may decide to take the more traditional route, first establishing an undergraduate public health major and then a masters program, so that it can develop the faculty needed to later offer doctorate courses as a fully accredited school of public health. Or it might hasten creation of its school through some type of faculty sharing with Hopkins or the University of Maryland.

The fact that Morgan State has decided the education of public health students should be included in its mission shows the institution understands its role as an urban university. Winning the Kellogg grant is acknowledgment of what a public health school at Morgan State could offer, not just to Baltimore, but to the rest of urban America.

Pub Date: 9/23/96

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