History

Founded in 2013, our school has made significant contributions to the field of public health and the academic legacy of Brown University.

Over a decade ago, the Corporation of Brown University voted to approve a unified School of Public Health—bringing together world-class researchers and students, all working toward a common goal: to improve the lives of people across the globe. These epidemiologists, community advocates, cancer researchers, behavioral scientists and more found common ground and set forth to build something more than the sum of its parts.

But our story doesn't begin there: Brown University has been teaching a public health curriculum since the Department of Community Health was first established in 1971. Our first research center was founded in 1982, representing an institutional investment in the transformative value of public health. Educational offerings were bolstered in the coming decades: an official Program in Public Health was approved in 1995 under the auspices of the Division of Biology and Medicine, and Brown's MPH program became CEPH accredited in 2002.

Building upon centuries of academic excellence at Brown University, public health professors looked to create a tailored, student-centered educational experience that is uniquely Brown. With this in mind, in 2011 the Department of Community Health was reorganized into the four departments that still form the academic foundation of our school today: Behavioral and Social Sciences; Biostatistics; Epidemiology; and Health Services, Policy and Practice.

“ We had all these pockets of strength...but we knew there would be greater coherence and strength under one umbrella, with one mission. ”

Vincent Mor Chair of the Department of Community Health from 1999 to 2010

In 2013, with a unanimous faculty vote of approval, Brown's Corporation established the School of Public Health. And as our school grew, we shaped a vision for its future: to perform cutting edge, collaborative research, advance the field of public health, and train the leaders of tomorrow. So we can live longer—live better—and care for the most vulnerable among us. 

In just ten years, we’ve established the school as a trusted and innovative national voice, guiding health education and policy toward ever more equitable and effective solutions. From advocating for young families to evaluating hospice care, our work touches people at every stage of life.

And we haven’t done this work alone. Along the way we’ve forged partnerships and collaborations, and discovered new challenges. When pandemics threatened, we found our voice. When the overdose crisis hit our communities, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. And we won’t stop there — from health equity to climate change, we’re committed to responding to the most important public health issues of our time.

Interview with Fox Wetle

Inaugural Dean Terrie 'Fox' Wetle speaks with senior staff member Karen Scanlan about the genesis of the School of Public Health. She recounts the trials and tribulations of the school's founding, and describes the key players that brought the school to fruition.
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School Timeline

Experience our school's history through the years.

Year Milestone
1916 The Brown Corporation recommends a graduate course of study leading to a Doctorate in Public Health — for "thorough training in the prevention of disease and the administration of modern agencies for conserving and promoting the health of the community."
1971 The Brown Corporation recommends Public Health curriculum be instituted
1972 Department of Community Health created within Brown's medical school
1982 The Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies becomes the first public health research center founded at Brown 
1987 Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research founded
1994 Center for Statistical Sciences founded
1995 Brown Corporation approves Program in Public Health, housed in the Division of Biology and Medicine
2001 First master's in biostatistics (ScM) degree conferred
2002 Master of Public Health program receives CEPH accreditation
2002 The Institute for Community Health Promotion (now the Center for Health Promotion and Health Equity (CHPHE), was founded as a center in the Brown Program in Public Health by Director Thomas M. Lasater and Deputy Director Kim Gans.

2004

School of Public Health expansion plan approved

2005

Brown purchases 121 South Main Street building to consolidate public health programs across the University
2005 First doctorate in biostatistics conferred

2011

Brown reorganizes the Department of Community Health into the four academic departments: Behavioral and Social Sciences; Biostatistics; Epidemiology; and Health Services, Policy and Practice.

2013

  • The School of Public Health is approved by the Brown Corporation, becoming Brown's third professional school, following Alpert Medical School (1972) and the School of Engineering (2010)
  • Terrie 'Fox' Wetle appointed inaugural dean
2015 School joins Governor Raimondo's newly launched Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force

2016

2017
2018 Joint MPH/MPA degree program launched
2019
2020
2021
2022
2023