Yale School of Public Health to become self-supporting, independent school

Yale School of Public Health
(Photo by Dan Renzetti)

The Yale School of Public Health (YSPH), a Council on Education for Public Health-accredited school that has also operated as a department within the Yale School of Medicine (YSM), will transition into a self-supporting, independent school, university leaders announced Thursday. They simultaneously pledged $150 million of endowment toward YSPH’s teaching, research, and practice.

Our experiences with the pandemic and other public health crises, both past and present, make one thing clear: the world has a need for leaders educated in public health principles and practice, especially the interventions made possible through transformative research in the field,” President Peter Salovey, Provost Scott Strobel, and YSM Dean Nancy J. Brown said in a joint announcement.

The organizational changes were based on input from the YSPH community through listening sessions, meetings, and written correspondence over the past several months, they said.

For more than 100 years, Yale School of Public Health has advanced the field of public health, driving innovations like the rapid development of saliva-based COVID-19 testing; ground-breaking research on health equity; and insights about infectious diseases like Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and tick-borne illnesses. Today, the school offers 15 different joint degree programs with other fields of study.

The university is committed to building on the school’s historic strengths and ensuring its future excellence,” Salovey, Strobel, and Brown wrote.

The changes will support YSPH’s contributions worldwide, they said.

By addressing the financial challenges historically faced by YSPH, university leadership made it possible for YSPH to take its equal place with the stature of the other professional schools at Yale in advancing its mission of excellence and educating leaders,” said Dr. Sten Vermund, dean of YSPH and the Anna M.R. Lauder Professor of Public Health, who plans to return to full-time teaching and research as a member of the faculty when his term ends on June 30, 2022. “This transformation will enhance our standing amongst our peer institutions and with prospective students and faculty. It positions the next dean to advance in earnest the school’s vision of health for all alongside the YSM and YSN.”

The search for Vermund’s successor, who will be appointed by the president, will begin in the coming weeks. Melinda Irwin, associate dean of research and Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases), will serve as the chair of the search advisory committee. The search firm Isaacson Miller will assist the committee.

We will be writing to the YSPH community separately about the composition of the committee and how the school’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni can provide input,” Salovey, Strobel, and Brown wrote. “We would like to take this opportunity to thank Dean Sten Vermund for his contributions to the excellence of the school and for building a strong foundation for his successor.”

The next dean will lead the school’s transition and ultimately will have autonomous responsibility for the school’s budget. Through a combination of increased endowment support and school-specific fundraising, and with the full cooperation of the Yale School of Medicine, the dean will organize YSPH as a free-standing professional school rather than as a department within YSM.

Upon the arrival of the new dean, Yale will provide a one-time $100 million contribution to YSPH’s endowment to solidify its financial footing and eliminate the subsidy it currently receives from YSM, according to Thursday’s message. Yale will also pledge $50 million of endowment funds as a match to endowment funds raised by YSPH over the next five years.

Separately Thursday, university leaders announced significant matching funds for YSPH, YSM, and the Yale School of Nursing as part of Yale’s investment in educating the next generation of health care professionals.

Further, Yale will seek to improve YSPH’s facilities.

In addition to hearing the community’s suggestions for the school’s organization, we learned how important improved space is to YSPH faculty, students, and staff,” the university leaders wrote. “Currently, YSPH is located in multiple buildings across New Haven. We will work with the next YSPH dean to identify opportunities to improve the school’s facilities in order to meet current and future teaching, research, and practice needs.”

The changes will position YSPH to continue and intensify its vital work in addressing an array of challenges facing humanity, they said.

We have experienced a historic crisis that underscores the necessity of public health to the well-being of communities in this country and around the world. We also know that other public health threats require immediate attention, including those resulting from climate change, food insecurity, water scarcity, health inequities, and growth in infectious and non-communicable diseases. Yale is proud to support the YSPH community as it addresses these pressing health challenges and improves local and global health for all.”

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Media Contact

Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-980-2222