The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn more attention to the need for public health professionals, leading to a new wave of people interested in pursuing studies in the field. Texas A&M University School of Public Health has seen a 15% increase in bachelor’s admissions over the past two years, as well as a 26% increase in master’s admissions.
Nationally, according to the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), schools of public health saw a 23% increase in the number of applicants for master’s and doctoral programs from fall 2019 to the fall 2020, and those numbers continue to rise.
“The one thing that is growing faster than our student body is the need for more faculty and staff to support them,” said Erin E. Schneider, associate dean of student services. “More recently, students have a better understanding of the value of a public health education, hence the growing demand for these degrees and skills. “
To help meet demand, the School of Public Health has launched an initiative to hire 16 new faculty and academics over the next two years.
“These are exciting times for us,” said Shawn Gibbs, dean of the School of Public Health. “We are hiring at least 16 new teachers, which will significantly increase the number of our teachers and positively change the trajectory of our school. We are aligning these faculty positions with our research initiatives and we are really expanding our capabilities and the research footprint of the School of Public Health.
“It’s a transformation for our school,” he said. “Then hopefully in a few years we’ll be looking at another hiring wave. This hiring initiative is part of the pent-up demand for education and research opportunities offered by the School of Public Health. “
Gibbs’ selection as dean took place before the pandemic and was informed in part by his vision which included the strategic expansion of the school’s teaching and research capacity. By the time he officially took office in May 2020, COVID-19 was a global problem.
“Obviously, this pandemic has really broadened the scope and brought public health to the forefront, and it has really shown people the importance and necessity of public health,” Gibbs said. “Three years ago one of the biggest problems we had was trying to explain to people what public health is.”
Currently, the school is preparing to fill the following positions:
In addition, the school is looking for candidates whose research interests match one of the school’s research centers: the Center for Community Health Development; the American Rural Public Health Preparedness Center; the South West Rural Health Research Center; the Center for Health and Nature; the Center for Ergonomics; and the Center for Population Health and Aging.
“We want to bring in great people,” Gibbs said. “We want to make sure that we bring in people who will help advance the School of Public Health’s research and our experiences in the classroom. I think the Texas A&M School of Public Health is a very exciting place right now. “
Schneider added, “Our continued goal is to be able to provide the highest quality teaching and support services to our students while making the School of Public Health a great place to work. “