Wayne State University celebrates new undergraduate Department of Public Health

As the world faces public health crises on multiple fronts, Wayne State University is taking a major step toward developing leaders in this increasingly critical field.

This summer, WSU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) finalizes the launch of its new undergraduate Department of Public Health.

In 2016, the college developed an undergraduate program in public health to unprecedented demand. The major was flooded by students dedicated to creating healthier communities in Detroit and beyond. In just four years, public health has become the third-largest major in CLAS, trailing only biology and psychology.

The study of public health at Wayne State is a truly immersive experience. Students are placed at more than 40 community sites across metro Detroit for practicum experiences. Since the undergraduate program's inception, nearly 500 practicum students have helped to identify and battle health disparities while educating communities on healthy life choices.

Noted public health researcher and professor Dr. Patricia A. Wren will lead the new department as chair.

Dr. Patricia Wren
Dr. Particia Wren

Wren's research focuses on the measurement of patient-centered outcomes - in essence, she makes sure that decisions about disease progression or treatment success take into account patient preferences and important indicators like quality of life, patient satisfaction, mobility, and functional status.

Wren previously served as professor and chair of the Department of Health and Human Services at UM-Dearborn, a department she was hired to build in 2017. Prior to that, she directed two undergraduate programs in health sciences and was the founding director of the new master of public health program at Oakland University.

According to Wren, she is both humbled and excited to help build WSU's newest department during this pivotal time in history.

"Current events have made clear that everything is connected to public health," Wren says. "This includes homicides, mass shootings, and police violence; racial justice and economic inequality; housing and mortgage foreclosures, water quality and access, and of course a novel coronavirus pandemic.

"The undergraduate Department of Public Health at Wayne State is uniquely positioned to launch generations of working professionals ready to meet these challenges and those as yet unknown to us. Because if there's one thing that is certain about public health, it's that the next great threat is coming. We might not know what it is today, but well-trained public health professionals will be ready to face it head-on. Current and prospective students, their families and the communities in which we work can all take considerable comfort in this knowledge at a time when so many other things remain uncertain."

Learn more about Wayne State's undergraduate Department of Public Health at publichealth.wayne.edu.

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