UNE announces School of Community and Population Health

July 05, 2013

The University of New England's Board of Trustees voted in May to create the School of Community and Population Health, consisting of the public health programs currently housed in the College of Graduate Studies. 

These include public health educational, training, research, and practice programs that enroll over 200 students, employ about 30 full-time faculty and staff as well as 20 adjunct faculty, and that have about $5.2 million in external funding, mostly in federal and state grants. Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, is the School's Founding Director and will continue in her role as vice president for Clinical Affairs for UNE.

Denise Bisaillon, EdD, will continue to lead the educational programs, consisting of a Master of Public Health (MPH) Program and a Graduate Certificate in Public Health. The School's MPH Program has grown rapidly in the last two years, doubling the number of students from about 100 to over 200. As the only accredited MPH degree in Maine, it is one of the few MPH programs nationally that is accredited and can be obtained entirely online, thanks to the operational support by UNE's Online Worldwide Learning (OWL). About 75% of our MPH students are practicing health professionals, many from rural areas in Maine, New England, and across the country.

Karen O'Rourke, MPH, will lead the School's training and practice programs. Included in these are:

  • Maine AHEC (Area Health Education Center Network), a federal HRSA and state funded program that alleviates health workforce shortages in rural and underserved areas of the state;
  • Maine GEC (Geriatric Education Center), a federal HRSA funded program that addresses geriatric education needs among Maine's health workforce;
  • Health Literacy Institute (HLIT), which provides nationally recognized education, training, and research on health communications;
  • Maine SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education), a Maine DHHS-administered and federal USDA-funded nutrition education program working through the Healthy Maine Partnerships with SNAP (food stamps) recipients and others with low income;
  • New England Alliance for Public Health Workforce Development, a federal HRSA-funded initiative to provide collaborative education and training programs to improve public health education in Maine; and
  • Maine Prevention Research Center, a federal CDC-funded collaborative with Harvard School of Public Health to conduct childhood obesity research and training in Maine.

Ron Deprez, PhD, MPH, will lead the School’s research programs, which have a focus on designing research and evaluating policies and programs related to access, delivery, cost, and quality of health care in the U.S. and abroad. Some current funded projects include:

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of Mount Desert Island Hospital's Community Healthcare Worker Program in behavior changes of persons with Pre-Diabetes;
  • Evaluating the integration of primary and behavioral health care in Downeast Maine;
  • Evaluating the federal CDC-funded Community Transformation Collaborative (CTG) prevention interventions in Downeast Maine;
  • Evaluating the federal SAMHSA-funded Project LAUNCH interventions in Downeast Maine;
  • Evaluating the Hanley Center leadership program;
  • Evaluating the Healthy Maine Partnership, Maine Asthma, Maine Oral Health, and Maine Comprehensive Cancer programs;
  • Developing the Passamaquoddy Health Assessment;
  • Developing a Rural Health Network;

In addition, the School's research programs have two geographically-based collaboratives:

  • Ghana Health Partnership is a collaborative of UNE, University of Cape Coast, and several health organizations to improve the health of the people of western Ghana. The School of Community and Population Health is developing a federally-funded proposal with these partners.
  • Downeast Health Collaborative is formed by several UNE public health initiatives in partnership with health providers, tribal and local governments in Washington and Hancock counties.

Many of the above programs are in UNE's Center for Community and Public Health, which is being integrated into the new school. LuAnn Thibeau will manage finances and administration across the SCPH, including overseeing program budgets.

The School of Community and Population Health at this time resides in the College of Graduate Studies, with Ellen Beaulieu, EdD, MPH as Interim Dean.