The School of Rural Public Health, part of The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, celebrates its fifth anniversary as an academic college on Friday, April 4 at 11:30 a.m. with a research symposium and reception at the Clayton Williams Jr. Alumni Center in College Station.
The research symposium will showcase 20 academic poster presentations by faculty and students on a variety of health-related topics. These topics range from improving the health status of minorities to pesticide safety. The session also includes posters by all the student organizations that showcase their individual goals and purpose.
At 1:30, the convocation will begin with a historical retrospective of the school. Recognition will be given to major figures and pioneers of the school as well as to five-year employees. Dr. Harrison Spencer, president and CEO of the Association of Schools of Public Health, will deliver the keynote address, “Post 9/11: A New Era for Public Health in America.” The speech is open to the public.
“I am very proud of the achievements and the growth of the school,” said Dr. Ciro V. Sumaya, SRPH dean. “I’m proud of all the people we’ve recruited who made this possible. As we look back over the last five years, we also need to be looking at the many challenges of the future. I know the SRPH family will be able to continue its growth and excellence in serving the community.” Sumaya is the school’s founding dean.
The school’s major accomplishments in its short life are many. The student population has grown from 23 to 236. The distance education program, a risky venture for a new school, successfully grew to six sites across the state. Six centers and programs of major state and emerging national and international prominence now exist within the school. These include the Southwest Rural Health Research Center, the Program on Aging, the Health Services Research Program, and the Community Health Development Program. The school now offers three master’s degrees, three doctoral degrees and a certificate program, in contrast to its initial single master’s degree. The quest for successful preaccreditation status was one of the fastest for a new school of public health.
Goals for the future include expanding the continuing education programs in public health to reach potential students and health professionals in communities where there are other A&M System schools; continuing to reflect the diversity of Texas in student, faculty, administration and staff; doubling the community-based initiatives from the current three multi-county regions; and becoming a recognized national and international resource in rural health issues.
The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its five components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology and the School of Rural Public Health.

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