School of Public Health banquet celebrates School's 40th anniversary
By Heather Reifsnyder
In conjunction with its annual Healthy People conference, the School of Public Health hosted a 40th anniversary banquet March 7 in celebration of the School’s four decades.
About 185 people attended the banquet, including students, faculty, Healthy People attendees, some alumni, and some of the School’s former deans.
Donn Gaede, DrPH, assistant professor, department of global health, hosted the evening. The speaker was Joan Coggin, MD, MPH, retired vice president for global outreach of Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center and professor in the School of Medicine.
In addition, a string quartet and the Loma Linda Academy group Pro Musica group presented music for the evening.
Retired faculty member P. William Dysinger, MD, MPH, was in attendance at the event. He is an emeritus associate dean of the School. Dr. Dysinger’s work with the School of Public Health goes back to the days when it was known as the School of Tropical and Preventive Medicine.
“It’s nice to see something that you helped start continue on,” Dr. Dysinger says.
Also in attendance was one of the first public health students, Carolyn Stuyvesant, who lives in Yucaipa. She studied tropical public health, receiving a master of science degree in 1967 (her degree was from the Graduate School due to the timing of the accreditation process for the new School of Public Health).
The School of Public Health was officially started in 1967, with Mervyn G. Hardinge, MD, DrPH, as dean. It was the first private school of public health west of the Mississippi River. The School had been under development for three years, since the Board authorized its creation in 1964.
The School united three entities into one by consolidating the School of Nutrition and Dietetics, the School of Medicine’s department of preventive medicine, and the division of public health. The division of public health had been in existence since 1961; prior to that, it was called the School of Tropical and Preventive Medicine, formed in the late 1940s.
The School of Public Health received full accreditation from the American Public Health Association in June 1967. In the fall of 1967, the Association of Schools of Public Health voted to accept the new LLU School of Public Health as a full member.
From the beginning, the faculty of the LLU School of Public Health have been involved in important activities. For example, in 1969, U.D. Register, PhD, chair of the nutrition department, participated in the first White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health.
In the 1970s, the National Institutes of Health awarded a grant to the School. The resulting project is now known as Adventist Health Study–1. It revealed remarkable health statistics about Seventh-day Adventists in California, including, for example, that men in this group live 7.3 years longer, and women 4.4 years longer, than other California men and women. These and other findings show how lifestyle practices such as those valued by Seventh-day Adventists can improve health. In 2001, researchers began registering participants for a second phase of the study.
A highlight of the 1980s was the first International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition, organized by the School of Public Health in 1987. Its proceedings were published in a 220-page supplement of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1988. The fifth meeting of the congress is scheduled for 2008.
During the 1990s, the School continued to receive recognition from the public health community. For example, in 1994, the World Health Organization designated the School as a Collaborating Center in Primary Health Care and Public Health Education.
In this new millennium, the School continues to grow in outreach and research efforts. For example, in 2006, grant funding for the School’s public health practice activities has reached nearly $5 million. By 2010, it is expected to exceed $10 million.
Today, LLU School of Public Health is one of only 37 accredited graduate schools of public health in the United States and Puerto Rico.
In addition to traditional programs, the School offers distance and online education. This year, the first graduates from the online MPH program will receive their diplomas.
As of December 2006, the School of Public Health has graduated nearly 5,000 students during the past 40 years. As the School prepares students for the public health concerns of the 21st century, the faculty continues to impart to students not only facts and methods, but Christian values such as service and compassion.