Universities Officially Approve Colorado’s First School of Public Health

DENVER— The Colorado School of Public Health Initiative today announced that Colorado will open the state’s first school of public health next year.  The Colorado School of Public Health will be a collaborative school comprising three of Colorado’s public universities: the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Colorado State University, and the University of Northern Colorado. 

Today’s unanimous approval by the University of Colorado Board of Regents gives UCDHSC the necessary authorization to open the school in 2008. As the lead institution, UCDHSC will connect its public health strengths with those of CSU and UNC, subsequently allowing more students to receive public health training, speed interdisciplinary research development and provide access to training and research funds only available to accredited schools of public health.

“Once formed, the Colorado School of Public Health will fill a significant regional void and no doubt play a vital role in the national public health arena.  With the pressures facing our public health system, from skyrocketing healthcare costs to disease management to disaster planning, a strong public health school can go a long way toward addressing the more pressing health needs of our region,” said Chancellor Wilson. 

The new Colorado School of Public Health will sit at the center of a nine-state region lacking a school of public health.  In order to serve the region, the school will incorporate an inter-institutional Masters of Public Health degree; research-based Master of Science and Doctoral degrees; medical residency programs; distance learning; continuing education, community outreach and public health research.

“The School of Public Health builds on the significant strength of Colorado’s research universities in biomedicine and will provide the advanced workforce needed to address local health issues as well as global challenges such as tuberculosis, AIDS, West Nile virus and other diseases,” said Larry Edward Penley, president of Colorado State University. The CSU Board of Governors approved the master of public health degree in June to allow CSU to participate in this collaborative school.

Traditionally, the three universities are long-standing supporters of public health in Colorado and the region.  Each university currently offers degrees and research in public health, but the collaboration is expected to maximize their efforts by combining the programs and research into one school. 

“This initiative will allow us to leverage the public’s investment in higher education so that we can provide programs that are essential to addressing state and national priorities,” said UNC President Kay Norton. 

In addition to approval from the Board of Regents, the Initiative announced that it will receive $1.25 million in funding from The Colorado Health Foundation. The Initiative secured the funding by successfully meeting the Foundation’s challenge grant issued in 2006.  Under the terms of the challenge grant, The Colorado Health Foundation committed $1.25 million to the Initiative with the condition that the Initiative demonstrate university and community support.  The challenge grant helped the Initiative leverage nearly $3 million in additional funding.

The Caring for Colorado Foundation, Rose Community Foundation, Colorado Public Health Association, the Hill Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, and Great West Life, along with numerous individual donors, have made generous gifts and grants. In addition, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and Colorado’s Area Health Educational Center (AHEC) awarded contracts for projects within the proposed school.

“Congratulations to the Colorado School of Public Health Initiative for surpassing the fundraising goals established in the challenge grant issued by The Colorado Health Foundation,” said Anne Warhover, the Foundation’s President and CEO. “We are pleased to provide these funds to the Initiative because we believe so strongly that the new Colorado School of Public Health will contribute greatly to improving the health of Colorado and the region.”

The Initiative will continue fundraising to develop expanded public health programs for the state and region, build the Donald Hoagland Strategic Initiatives Fund, and foster student scholarships. The Donald Hoagland Strategic Initiatives Fund, begun by Davis, Graham and Stubbs Law Firm, will grow in perpetuity to support emerging developments within public health.  Additional funding will be sought to augment the John R. Moran, Jr. scholarship endowment established by The Colorado Trust.

In securing both approval and financial support, the new school is scheduled to open in academic year 2008-2009.  Until next year, the Initiative will focus on school curriculum, distance education, recruitment, and developing strong relationships with communities and agencies working in public health. The new school will be eligible to apply for national accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health once it graduates its first class of students.  The universities’ existing programs will independently retain program accreditation until the school is officially accredited in 2010.

The Colorado School of Public Health Initiative is a joint endeavor among the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado to open the region’s first and only school of public health in July 2008 to be accredited by 2010. Once formally established, this collaborative school will serve the needs of the public health workforce and the diverse communities in the Rocky mountain region by incorporating public health graduate degree programs at each of the three institutions with distance learning, continuing education, community outreach and public health research.  For more information, visit http://www.coloradosph.org/.

Media contacts:

Catherine Worster

University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center


Brad Bohlander

Colorado State University


Nate Haas

University of Northern Colorado


Chris Power Bain

The Colorado Health Foundation