Mercyhurst launches public health institute, prominent expert to direct

In response to the surging demand among college students for public health studies, Mercyhurst College announced today the launch of a new public health initiative and, at its helm, one of the nation’s preeminent authorities on the subject, David J. Dausey, Ph.D.

Dausey, a Pittsburgh native and Mercyhurst College alumnus, is stepping down from his role as Distinguished Service Professor and Senior Director of Health Programs and Initiatives at Heinz College of Carnegie Mellon University to accept a position at Mercyhurst as tenured professor of public health and the director of the new Mercyhurst Institute for Public Health, said Mercyhurst President Dr. Tom Gamble. Dausey assumes his new post at Mercyhurst this summer.

An internationally respected public health and health care expert, Dausey has worked closely with senior health officials in more than 20 countries and experts at international organizations such as the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the Rockefeller Foundation. Dausey also serves as a consultant for the RAND Corporation’s Global Health Division and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Domestically, he has collaborated with more than 100 state and local public health agencies and health care organizations in every region of the country and with large federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Over the last decade, Dausey has led externally funded research projects totaling nearly ten million dollars.

He is the author of more than 70 scholarly publications and his work has been translated into more than a dozen different languages and has been featured by domestic and international media outlets such as USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, CNN and MSNBC.

“We are gratified to welcome Dave Dausey back to his alma mater and trust that his outstanding credentials and commitment will enable Mercyhurst College to grow an innovative and pioneering program consistent with the international stature of our intelligence studies and anthropology programs,” said Gamble in announcing Dausey’s appointment. “Of equal importance is that this presents an opportunity to meet the interests of our students and the needs of the greater world community in preparing them for expected employment opportunities in the public health sector.”

In accepting the position, Dausey said he is eager to return to Erie and, in particular, Mercyhurst where he will have the opportunity to build a program centered on his passion – public health. At Carnegie Mellon, he supervised all of the health programs at Heinz College.

Dausey said the health implications of behaviorally driven chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease, not to mention the continued global threat of emerging infectious diseases, require a well-educated public health workforce.

He said the demand for public health professionals is driving student interest in careers that are many and varied. According to a 2008 report from the Association of Schools of Public Health, the U.S. will need an additional 250,000 public health workers by 2020 to avert a “public health workforce crisis.”

Addressing this mandate at Mercyhurst is a dream come true for Dausey who said, “Of all the places I have worked and been educated, Mercyhurst is where I developed a passion for knowledge and a desire to teach, and I can honestly say that I have never found a sense of community quite as unique as that at Mercyhurst College.”

The program will begin this fall with a new bachelor’s degree in public health that leverages the expertise of many of the college’s existing academic departments. Graduates will be prepared to move directly into the workforce and assume posts from frontline workers in labs testing for diseases to public health policymakers. The undergraduate degree could also be used as a stepping-stone degree for aspiring nurses, doctors and biologists.

As the academic department develops, the goal is to add a master’s degree program, online degree/certificate programs, and international internships with ministries of health in countries around the world. Eventually, Dausey said, he envisions offshoots that include a Center for Public Health Practice that would be focused on executive education and hands-on training programs; and a Center for Public Health Research that would develop cutting-edge research in strategic areas like global health and public health emergency preparedness.

Dausey received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Mercyhurst and his master’s and doctoral degrees in epidemiology and public health from Yale University. He received postgraduate training in higher education management and leadership at Harvard University. He and his wife Nichole have two children, Daniel and Elijah.

For more information, contact Dausey at ddausey@mercyhurst.edu, effective May 18
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