January 26, 2022 – College of Human Medicine
Today, Michigan State University and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation announced a $25 million transformational grant from the foundation to the College of Human Medicine to expand the college’s public health program in Flint, Michigan. This grant will create an endowment fund to increase appointed faculty positions and expand opportunities for students, faculty, and our Flint community partners. This is the largest donor grant in the college’s history.
The new money will cause the division to add about 18 new tenured professors, including more than eight appointed professors. These new faculty will join the seven tenured systems and eleven term faculty collaborating with Flint-area organizations and agencies on public health research and programming.
Michigan State University is the nation’s first land-grant university and has been in Flint for more than 100 years. The College of Human Medicine is one of the nation’s premier community medical schools and has been in Flint since its founding more than 55 years ago. This grant reflects the very core of that history and identity. The fruitful partnerships forged between our students and faculty with Flint residents have created new knowledge, new programs, and new opportunities. By helping people in the community achieve their goals, the college and its faculty succeed.
Importantly, this grant is the result of successful collaborations and partnerships between community and academic colleagues over many years. Between 2007 and 2012, the college held a series of meetings with the Mott Foundation, local hospitals, and other community organizations to design an expansion of the college’s work in Flint. Based on these conversations, the foundation, Hurley Medical Center, (Ascension) Genesys Hospital, and McLaren Flint have all provided funds to support the establishment of the College of Human Medicine. Public Health Division dedicated to community-based participatory research in Flint. The Mott Foundation led this effort with nearly $12 million in grants plus the cost of renovating the Flint Journal Building.
Following these agreements, Jerry Kooiman and Jeff Dwyer, among others, participated in more than 100 community meetings and collected nearly 4,000 surveys to engage the Flint community in the direction of the new division. The college provided this input to the Flint Public Health Research Advisory Committee, made up of Flint residents and university members, to determine the direction of the new unit.
The advisory committee recommended three areas of focus and direction for public health research in Flint: healthy behaviors, behavioral health, and chronic diseases that address health disparities. We remain committed to this work and process, and with the new funding, the advisory committee will review our progress and provide further guidance.
Building on this initial work, the division hiring C.S. Mott Professors of Public Health, Global Impact Initiative positions, and Distinguished Senior Researchers and Educators for Flint. These teachers contributed to Flint’s water crisis response, creating many innovative programs in the community, initiated the Flint registerand have received more than $90 million in research and program funding since 2015. Between 2015 and 2020, college activity in Flint has created more than 80 college jobs and 30 positions at partner community organizations.
Additionally, since the division’s inception, the team moved the Master of Public Health (MPH) program to Flint and successfully guided the program through its initial accreditation site visit. Under the leadership of Wayne McCullough, PhD, MPH is one of the first in line programs around the country to successfully enter the credentialing pathway, and the degree continues to provide opportunities for people in the state and nation. This year, the MPH will congratulate its 700and graduated since its founding by Michael Rip and Kathleen Oberst.
This expansion will increase the size of the division to more than 25 full professors and approximately 70 professors in total. The college has long planned to convert the division into a department to provide an academic home for faculty in the division – this expansion makes the creation of the department even more important.
Today I sent the College of Human Medicine College Advisory Committee (CAC) a proposal to convert the division into a department named the Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Health. As the college and unit grows, the Charles Stewart Mott name will help tie the future department to the Flint community and commemorate the leadership and generosity of the Mott Foundation. If and when this proposal is successful, Charles Stewart Mott’s Department of Public Health will be among the university’s first named departments. Upon departmental approval, our college will begin a nationwide search for a founding chair of the new department.
A link to the recording of the announcement will be available tomorrow on the college’s website. On Friday, we’re dedicating the College of Human Medicine’s weekly town hall to this grant and expanding our work in Flint with Mott Foundation Vice President Neal Hegarty and Acting Division Director Wayne McCullough.
Over the past decade, the college has significantly expanded its public health science, outreach, and education in units beyond the current division. Most of our departments have at least a few researchers who focus on public health issues, and it is important that this work continues to expand and grow in these departments. In particular, our Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics has a long and distinguished track record in all of its assignments, and the continued expansion and success of Epi-Biostats is key to the college’s growth and success. As we hope to emerge on the other side of the pandemic, the integration of public health and medical care is more important than ever, and the college has the opportunity to become a national leader in this interdisciplinary effort.
This grant and our next steps are possible because of the extraordinary work and vision of so many people. The earliest conversations between leaders of Flint, MSU, the College of Human Medicine, and the Mott Foundation date back to at least 2007. Along the way, research, business, communications, advancement, human resources, and staff educational college helped us through tight spots and over rough terrain. None of this would be possible without the staff members who find and implement solutions to each new challenge we face.
Creating and delivering community integration and collaborations that advance education, discovery, and health are central to the college’s founding. Through the talents and hard work of our staff, students, and faculty, the college helps children thrive, provides hope and opportunity for families, advances science and understanding, and helps our community partners to achieve their goals. Thank you for all you do to support the people of the College of Human Medicine and for making the College such a special place.
Serve people with you,
Aron Sousa, MD