A photo of students in the public health sciences department's class of 2000.

A photo of students in the public health sciences department’s class of 2000.
Image Credit: Cheryl Dye

The Clemson University Department of Public Health Sciences will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Oct. 14 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Madren Conference Center Pavilion. Department representatives invite current and former faculty members as well as students and alumni from the department to celebrate a quarter century of preparing students for public health and health care practice.

The department will provide refreshments and entertainment from Tigeroar, the popular Clemson all male a cappella group. According to Dr. Cheryl Dye, director of the Clemson University Institute for Engaged Aging and professor in the department, the event will allow faculty, students and alumni to share stories from over two decades of history. Dye was the first faculty member hired in the department, and she feels the department has made good on ambitious promises.

“The department’s goal has always been to positively affect public health practice, health service delivery and the general health status of our state, nation and world,” Dye said. “Through student achievement, valued partnerships and the tireless efforts of our faculty in teaching and research, our department has had a large impact in those areas over the last 25 years.”

Although officially started in 1991, the department’s origins can be traced back to 1983, when College of Nursing leadership and faculty saw the need for providing health content to students in its program. Enrollment in this health course increased steadily, and in 1991 Clemson successfully established the Bachelor of Science in health science as a new degree program. Dye helped to consult nursing faculty on the degree’s original curriculum.

As the program continued, faculty added and modified courses to make them more appropriate to public health practice rather than nursing. In fall 1992, the department claimed 60 students, a department chair and four faculty members; the department now boasts 19 total faculty and 480 undergraduate students, including 110 students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in language and international health joint degree program. The department also has 30 graduate certificate students and nine doctoral students.

Cheryl Dye (left) with graduates in the class of 1999.

Cheryl Dye (left) with graduates in the class of 1999.
Image Credit: Cheryl Dye

“The department’s growth has been deliberate and steady,” Dye said. “Departmental faculty and leadership have always developed additional programs or partnerships based on their value and long-term viability.”

The department embraces a vision of improving the health of patients and the public through a team-science approach that integrates research, education and service. The department enjoys fruitful relationships and collaboration with outside organizations, such as Greenville Health System, and many department faculty members are engaged in key research leading to the improvement of health and health services. Their research affects the smallest communities or schools through health promotion and behavior, or it can be applied to global issues such as infectious disease, substance abuse and issues related to health insurance.

According to Dr. Ron Gimbel, chair of the public health sciences department, the department plans to capitalize on its many achievements moving forward. Gimbel said department faculty is well equipped to increase its focus on research and outreach without losing sight of the undergraduate and graduate students that come to the department for an education in public health that is without peer. However, even a department as busy as his can spare a few hours for celebration.

“Perspective is important, and I think our faculty and students will gain that at this event and have a little fun in the process,” Gimbel said. “I’m excited to learn things about the department I might not have known, but even more I’m happy to be here among a great faculty and student body during this moment in the department’s history.”

To RSVP to the event, please contact Rebecca Coffey at coffey2@clemson.edu.