The Pitt News

SGB pushing for public health certificate

Student Government Board members Jack Heidecker and Meghan Murphy converse during Tuesday's meeting. Abigail Self | Staff Photographer

Student Government Board members Jack Heidecker and Meghan Murphy converse during Tuesday's meeting. Abigail Self | Staff Photographer

Student Government Board members Jack Heidecker and Meghan Murphy converse during Tuesday's meeting. Abigail Self | Staff Photographer

By Lauren Wilson / Staff Writer

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If a current Student Government Board initiative is successful, Pitt could soon have a new public health certificate program.

At its weekly public meeting Tuesday night, Board member Lia Petrose introduced a student task force that will gauge student interest in an undergraduate public health certificate.

Starting Wednesday, the task force will distribute a survey through various health-related student organizations and SGB’s Facebook page.

The task force, which is made up of eight students, has been officially meeting since March to propose a public health certificate program for undergraduate students at the University.

With the program, Petrose hopes to formalize Pitt’s existing public health courses.

“[Public health is] knowledge that applies to other careers, like medicine or dental or even pharmacy,” Petrose said. “It’s a very applicable set of skills you can get from these courses.”

According to Petrose, the task force has been meeting with Donald Burke, dean of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health, and Edward Stricker, dean of Pitt’s honors college, to edit the task force’s proposal for the certificate. After the survey, Petrose said the next step is to meet with the deans again, though she said she didn’t have a specific date set.

Petrose said the administration supports the initiative, but said both the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Public Health must approve funding for the certificate.

Petrose said she expects the program to be available within the next two years, but didn’t have a set date.

“The administration supports it. If a financial situation can be agreed upon, then it will happen” Petrose said. “It requires creative thinking, but it’s in the works.”

Petrose said she wanted to create the certificate program because medical students expressed interest to her while she was campaigning for SGB.

“I was talking to student groups during the election season, and the biggest thing that stuck out during conversation was the public health certificate. People [in the student groups] were interested in helping.”

Petrose said the task force is looking for a different approach to public health than the programs already offered at Pitt, such as the global health program.

“If you’re involved at any step of the health care process,” Petrose said, “having a public health worldview will give you a different perspective on each problem you face every day.”

At its meeting, SGB also discussed hosting a town hall meeting with Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) in November.

On Nov. 13, SGB’s Governmental Relations Chair Pat Corelli will host SGB’s first-ever town hall meeting with Doyle, giving students a chance to meet their local congressman and ask questions about state politics.

Corelli will moderate the SGB-sponsored meeting in the lower lounge of the William Pitt Union.

“Students live busy lives and can feel disengaged in politics,” Corelli said. “[The town hall] will get students interested in politics, and it’s an easy way to get students access to their congressman. It’s not every day students get to sit down and ask a question to their representative.”

With the next wave of re-elections for the U.S. House of Representatives coming next fall, Pitt students will have the chance to talk to one of Pennsylvania’s reps before they cast their votes.

“We want people that come to feel more engaged and that it was worth it,” Corelli said.

Mostly, Corelli said, he expects students to raise issues of student loans and the cost of college attendance at the meeting.

“The Governmental Relations Committee wants students to be engaged, and the best way to do this is take people that do make these decisions and bring them to Pitt,” Corelli said. “We do want to show students that government is at least in some way responsive to their concerns.”


Phi Delta Epsilon requested $3,076 to send four people to a conference. SGB followed its allocations committee’s recommendation and approved $1,147 and denied $1,929.

Phi Alpha Delta requested $1,295.20 to send three people to a conference. SGB approved the request in full.

Design Hub requested $2,000.12 to attend a research conference. SGB postponed ruling on the request until next week.

Pittsburgh Intercollegiate Snowboard Team requested a total of $6,700 to host two separate skiing and snowboarding trips. SGB approved the two separate requests of $3,350 each in full.

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SGB pushing for public health certificate