In September 2006, the chancellor of City University of New York, Matthew Goldstein, announced that CUNY planned to create a collaborative School of Public Health to open within five years. The school would have an urban focus and bring together the University’s public health programs at Brooklyn, Lehman and Hunter Colleges and the Graduate Center, as well as other faculty with relevant expertise from around the University. The chancellor designated Hunter College as the lead institution because it had the largest and oldest public health program, accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, the national body that accredits public health programs and schools, since 1972.
Since the chancellor’s announcement, CUNY has achieved several important milestones:
In September 2008, the CUNY Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Kenneth Olden as founding dean of the new CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. Olden headed the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, both part of the National Institutes of Health, from 1991 to 2005. He was the first African-American to become director of one of the 18 institutes of the NIH and has also recently served as Yerby Visiting Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science. Goldstein observed that “Dr. Olden is a distinguished scientific leader and cancer researcher who displayed an unwavering commitment to public health as director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program.” Hunter College President Jennifer Raab said: “Under Dr. Olden’s leadership, CUNY and Hunter College will be well positioned to establish a world-class School of Public Health given our strong master’s and Ph.D. programs in the field, combined with the University’s great strengths in the natural and social sciences that underlie the public health field.”
In October 2009, the Council on Education for Public Health accepted CUNY’s application to be reviewed for transforming its accredited programs in public health into a single School of Public Health. That review process will begin in 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2011.
In November 2009, Hunter College and City University of New York broke ground for a new building for the School of Public Health in East Harlem. The school will share the new, eight-story, 147,000-square-foot green building on Third Avenue between East 118th and 119th Streets with the Hunter College School of Social Work. Faculty, staff and students from both schools will work closely with community organizations and health and social service agencies in East Harlem to strengthen existing and create new approaches to improving the well-being of East Harlem and other low-income communities. CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College took occupancy Fall 2011. Classes will continue to be offered on all four participating campuses.
The CUNY School of Public Health has hired more than 15 new faculty members that are based at Brooklyn, Hunter and Lehman Colleges. The new faculty members include beginning and senior researchers in biostatistics, epidemiology, community health, health policy and management, nutrition and other fields.