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School of Public Health at IUPUI named for Fairbanks in honor of Foundation's $20 million gift

Fairbanks School of Public Health Naming Ceremony
Fairbanks School of Public Health Naming Ceremony View print-quality image

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September 27, 2012

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IU ceremony is one of two naming events for state’s only public health schools

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Indiana University celebrated the establishment of one of two new schools of public health today, naming the school on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus in recognition of a transformative and remarkably generous $20 million gift in support of IU’s efforts to address the critical public health problems that affect the quality of life of many Hoosiers.


The new school at IUPUI will be formally named the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health. The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation last year gave Indiana University $20 million to help establish the school, which evolved from the Department of Public Health in the IU School of Medicine. The school will draw upon the resources of the IUPUI health sciences campus, including the faculty and programs of the School of Medicine and other campus health schools. University, foundation and state health officials participated in the 10:30 a.m. naming ceremony at the University Place Conference Center Auditorium.


The Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health will focus on the areas of urban health, health policy, biostatistics and epidemiology. With its strong connections to the IU School of Medicine on the IUPUI campus, it will serve as a catalyst to help build a collaborative approach to improved public health, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie said.


The president cited studies of smoking rates, heart attack and high cholesterol that rank Indiana as one of the least healthy states in the nation. Such poor public health statistics have a negative effect on Indiana’s economic growth and standard of living.


“The Fairbanks School of Public Health will bring together in one school an outstanding group of academics dedicated to addressing these most serious societal problems as they educate the future generations of public health professionals to meet Indiana’s public health challenges,” McRobbie said.


The Fairbanks School will also enable Indiana University to compete for federal and foundation funding that is available only to schools of public health, thereby increasing public health spending for Hoosiers, and will contribute to economic development through the promotion of a healthier workforce and the containment of rapidly increasing employer health care costs, the president said.


“On behalf of Indiana University, I extend our deepest thanks to the Fairbanks Foundation board of directors for their extraordinary generosity and for their steadfast support for public health and our mission,” McRobbie said.


State Health Commissioner Gregory N. Larkin delivered the keynote address at the naming ceremony. Other speakers included Fairbanks Foundation president and CEO Leonard J. Betley; Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs Edwin Marshall, who chairs the IU Public Health Coordinating Council; IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz; Marion County Health Director Virginia Caine; doctoral student Hanna Maxey; and master's degree student Aleksander Overbey.


“The primary driver of Fairbanks Foundation’s interest is an effort to improve the public health of residents of Indiana by creating a well-educated group of public health professionals and an entity that through research can influence public policy,” Betley said.


Building on the degree programs created under the IU School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health, the Fairbanks School of Public Health will offer bachelor’s degrees in public health and health services management, master's degrees in public health and health administration, and doctorates in health policy and management, epidemiology and biostatistics.


“The establishment of the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health on the IUPUI campus provides the opportunity to collaborate not only across the many disciplines associated with public health, but also to collaborate among dozens of faculty focused on improving health in the schools of liberal arts, sciences, social work, SPEA, engineering and technology and, of course, the health professions," Bantz said. "The complexities of improving public health require the collaborative approach that is IUPUI’s great strength.”


Today’s ceremony is the first of two naming ceremonies the Indiana University Public Health Initiative is conducting this week for its two new schools of public health -- the only such schools in Indiana.


The School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, established at IU Bloomington in 1946, officially will be named the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington during a ceremony at 3 p.m. Friday in the Tony A. Mobley Auditorium in the new School of Public Health-Bloomington. The Bloomington school will have a rural community focus that will emphasize its strengths in social and behavioral health, environmental health sciences, epidemiology and community-based research and practice.


Indiana traditionally ranks poorly in major public health benchmarks, such as obesity, tobacco use, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Citing these and other Hoosier health needs, IU officials announced in 2009 plans to leverage the university's vast public health resources through the creation of schools of public health at IU Bloomington and IUPUI.


Earlier this year, the Council on Education for Public Health, an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of public health and public health programs, approved IU's request to begin the accreditation process for both the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health and the School of Public Health-Bloomington. The two schools also have associate status in the Association of Schools of Public Health.


For more about the ceremony at IUPUI, contact Diane Brown at 317-274-2195 or habrown@iu.edu. For more information about the ceremony at IU Bloomington, contact Charles Rondot at 812-855-1354 or crondot@indiana.edu, or Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or traljame@iu.edu.