Deans say no set date on new certificate

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Deans say no set date on new certificate

Student Government Board member Lia Petrose. Abigail Self | Staff Photographer

Student Government Board member Lia Petrose. Abigail Self | Staff Photographer

Student Government Board member Lia Petrose. Abigail Self | Staff Photographer

Student Government Board member Lia Petrose. Abigail Self | Staff Photographer

By Lauren Wilson / Staff Writer

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Ten months into her project to launch a new undergraduate certificate program, Student Government Board member Lia Petrose said introductory courses should be tentatively ready by 2017. The University said otherwise.

When Petrose was sworn into office in January, she began working to bring public health education to undergraduate students, something that is currently only available to graduate students through Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health.

Beginning in March, Petrose met with the Pitt administration, including the deans of the Graduate School of Public Health and the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, to discuss how to make and implement an undergraduate public health certificate.

At SGB’s public meeting Oct. 28, Petrose said Pitt could tentatively make the certificate available to students in the fall of 2017. Administrators in the two schools, however, have said there is no tentative start date.

Now, Petrose has clarified that she named fall 2017 as the start date for the introductory courses because that is when she hoped to have them available. Petrose said she knew she and the schools had to find professors to teach the introductory courses, but still hoped they could finish things in two years.

Cindy Bryce, associate dean for student affairs at Pitt’s Graduate Department of Public Health, said the department is discussing an undergraduate public health certificate, but nothing is definite.

“Pitt Public Health is excited to explore the possibility of offering an academic program for undergraduates interested in higher-level courses in the public health curricula,” she said. “At this point discussions are preliminary, no courses, timeline or structure have been established, and it is premature to comment further.”

One of the other deans Petrose said will be involved, N. John Cooper of the School of Arts and Sciences, said while he is open to the idea of the certificate, the school has not developed enough plans yet to set a date.

“Dean Cooper is very interested in this concept, and his office has invited the relevant deans to discuss how to best provide education in public health to undergraduates,” Pitt spokesperson John Fedele said in an email.

The third dean Petrose said she had met with Edward Stricker, dean of Pitt’s Honor’s college, declined to comment.

On Wednesday, Petrose, too, issued a statement that said the date is not definite.

In SGB’s press release on Wednesday, Petrose said neither the School of Public Health nor the School of Arts and Sciences had confirmed the public health certificate and the introductory public health course, though she and the schools would continue to work on the project.

“We are still figuring out the details and working very hard to figure out the public health course,” Petrose said. “What we hope to create right now is the course. That’s what we see happening before any certificate is approved.”

Petrose said a public health certificate is important because it provides a vital set of skills for students and there is currently no public health certificate for undergraduates.

Though the schools would not comment further, Petrose said she is focusing her efforts on finding a financial model for the certificate and finding faculty to lead the courses.

“Right now nothing like this exists for undergraduates,” Petrose said.

Editor’s Note: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story said Petrose had said the Public Health certificate would be available by the Fall of 2017. Petrose said she hoped the introductory courses for the certificate would be available by Fall 2017. An earlier version of this story also said Petrose had met with N. John Cooper. Petrose said she hoped to meet with N. John Cooper. The story has been updated  to reflect these changes. 

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