College of Public Health enrollment rising faster than expected

Michaela Write

Enrollment for the College of Public Health has grown to 191 total students in its three semesters of existence.

Ten undergraduate students were enrolled in Spring 2010. Now there are 139. The number of graduate students has gone from zero to 52 in the same time period.

“Enrollment is exceeding expectations,” President Lester Lefton said in an interview with Stater editors this semester. “We have doctoral students, we have master students and our undergraduate enrollment far exceeded our expectations.”

Mark James, dean of the College of Public Health, said he attributes the college’s growth to students, faculty and staff spreading the word.

He said faculty members fill their name in a spreadsheet to decide where they will go to recruit students. Faculty members have visited high school and undergraduate open houses around Ohio and northern Pennsylvania.

Kay Levandowski, an adviser in the college, has even traveled as far as North Carolina to talk to students about the college.

“When you talk about public health, it’s such a broad thing,” she said. “There are so many opportunities and we are looking to educate (high school students) on what public health is. We’re still looking for recruitment opportunities.”

James said the college has received support from the Board of Trustees, Provost Robert Frank and Lefton. James said the president established an initiative fund for the college, and University Communications and Marketing offices have created campaigns to help advertise the college.

Lefton said the administration “built a business model” for the college that requires a certain number of students to enroll in the first, second and third years.

“(We) recognize that it’s going to start slowly and build over time as it builds reputation and people come to understand that it exists,” Lefton said, adding that enrollment is exceeding those goals.

Frank Henry-Ala, a health policy and management major in the master’s program, said he wants to be a physician and thought a master’s in public health would be a good complement.

“I was told about the program by Provost Frank,” Henry-Ala said. “He put me in contact with Dr. (Sonia) Alemagno, and she explained all the great things I could do with an MPH. I was already aware, but she put things in better perspective for me.“

Koya Allen, a doctoral student in prevention science, said she came here because of James, her career mentor at Tulane University. She was looking at other areas of study when James, who had just been hired, told her about the college.

“It seems like the more the college gets the word out, the more students are taking that as an option from other fields,” Allen said. “Some people say it’s a better fit for them.”

Levandowski said many current students have also transferred into public health from other majors.

“A lot of people are gravitating toward our curriculum,” she said.

Contact Michaela Write at [email protected].